Unrelenting Environmental Defense in Celebration of World Environment Day 2024

June 5, 2024

This World Environment Day, we aim to shed light on issues that are underreported but are a critical part of understanding the situation of the Philippine environment. This includes the impacts of El Niño, militarization, and bombings.

One of the themes of World Environment Day 2024 is drought resilience. In the recent El Niño, we see how the droughts have tripled the burden of the peasant sector. As of May 2024, the Department of Agriculture has reported that the damages reached P6.3 billion, with rice being the most affected crop amounting to P3.3 billion worth of losses. This is followed by corn with P1.9 billion and other high-value crops amounting to P1 billion. These affected an estimated 29,409 farmers and fisherfolk as of March and April. It should be noted that El Niño is a predictable occurrence, and damages could be mitigated with proper preparations. However, there is a reported lack of measures as well as subsidies to lessen the impacts of El Niño. Farmers urgently need just compensation for their losses in the face of criminal negligence by the administration, especially since they are considered one of the poorest sectors of Philippine society.

Militarization and bombings are often portrayed as necessary actions for peace and security. However, many studies have shown how these activities have damaged forest ecosystems, among others. In addition, there have been reports that various communities nationwide have experienced intense fear, trauma, and panic, as well as grave concern over the loss of their homes and livelihoods. The recent bombings in the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Sur, and Aurora have affected hundreds of families. In particular, focused military operations in Aurora Province prohibited farming activities of residents, paralyzing their primary source of livelihood. According to the report of the human rights group KARAPATAN Central Luzon, the military used precision-strike and deep-strike military equipment such as two T129 helicopters for the military operations. The massive impact on civilians raises questions about the violation of International Humanitarian Law.

Additionally, we can see that there are clearly government funds, but these are allocated for military activities, which affect Filipinos rather than supporting and compensating the poor and vulnerable sectors.

Environmental advocates nationwide have time and again called on the Marcos Jr. administration to heed the call of communities to address these environmental issues, which clearly violate their Constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, as well as their right to access basic necessities.

Today, we call on fellow environmental advocates to stand with the poor and marginalized sectors of the country who are most affected by environmental issues. Let us continue to be vigilant on the destructive activities, call for action to address these, and hold violators of environmental and human rights accountable.

 

#SigawNgTaumbayan

#SagipinAngKalikasan

#WorldEnvironmentDay2024

 

References: 

[1] Cabrera, R. (2024, May 11). El Niño agriculture damage climbs to P6.3 billion. Philstar.com. https://www.philstar.com/nation/2024/05/12/2354398/el-nio-agriculture-damage-climbs-p63-billion 

[2]  United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). (2024, March 25). Philippines: Impact of el niño snapshot (as of 25 March 2024). Front page. https://www.unocha.org/publications/report/philippines/philippines-impact-el-nino-snapshot-25-march-2024 

[3] Elloran, Z. M. (2024, April 1). Peasant Group decries lack of assistance for El Niño-stricken local food producers: Catholic News Philippines: LiCAS.news Philippines: Licas News. Catholic News Philippines | LiCAS.news Philippines | Licas News. https://philippines.licas.news/2024/04/01/peasant-group-decries-lack-of-assistance-for-el-nino-stricken-local-food-producers/ 

[4] Kodao Productions. (2024, April 6). Groups condemn AFP bombings in Abra, ilocos sur. https://kodao.org/groups-condemn-afp-bombings-in-abra-ilocos-sur/ 

[5] Gutoman, D. (2024, June 5). A week after military bombing, Aurora residents suffer from trauma. Bulatlat. https://www.bulatlat.com/2024/06/05/a-week-after-military-bombing-aurora-residents-suffer-from-trauma/