The many environmental ills that the Philippines is facing now are interlinked and are compounded by other developmental challenges, such as poverty, globalization and shrinking democratic spaces, among other problems. As a developing country, we are among those with least contributions to global carbon emissions, yet our people -- especially those from the most impoverished and marginalized communities --  are bearing the brunt of climate catastrophes that happen on a regular basis now. While a study has the Philippines as one of the top countries that puts out plastic to the oceans, plastic brand audits regularly point to big, multinational corporations as the ones who inundate us with cheap, disposable single-use plastic packaging, without providing take-back systems or other clean-up options, despite the humongous profits they make from consumers.

Far worse is that we have been dependent on coal energy for decades locking us with a dirty and deadly future. Coal is considered as the dirtiest source of energy and one of the main contributors to climate change, but since the 1970s, laws and plans to develop coal were made with little or no consideration to environmental damages, climate change, health impacts and financial risks. This continues until today. The Philippines has 26 existing coal plants with 35 new projects in the pipeline.

 

 

 

 

It’s not a coincidence that our campaigns against single-use plastic and coal have one call to action: to break free from these corporate vultures who line their pockets at the expense of people and the planet. Break free from plastic. Break free from coal.

 

As a nation, we have to pick up where the heroes of yesterday left off. Many communities  in La Union, Cebu and Ozamiz city are resisting coal projects, while cities and provincial governments are now declaring no coal in their locality and they are demanding for renewable and cheaper energy. In these communities, heroism is abound.

 

We have to stand up to big multinational companies - Nestle, Unilever, Coca Cola, Procter and Gamble, among others, and tell them that we can no longer be on the receiving end of cheap, disposable, plastic that they produce. Our cities are introducing plastic bag bans and various other ways to curb plastic pollution. Concerned citizens are fighting and clawing their way out of single-use plastic pollution by reducing their own plastic consumption and trying to lead zero-waste lifestyles. But these initiatives are not enough.

 

Industry giants need to be held accountable for these systems that benefit only a few companies that are headquartered in richer countries. They already made a lot of money, and are still making a lot more at the expense of developing countries like the Philippines. Now we want to see their plans on how they intend to make it right for communities who no longer accept the role of being hapless victims to their greed and utter disregard for the environment. There are already a lot of better alternatives, and we will gain our independence from coal and single-use plastics, because the people and the planet demand it. These companies have to stand with the people, or stand aside, because we WILL #breakfree....

 

From the early days of our nation, we have been fighting for our identity, land and our freedom. We have lived through many difficulties and yet we survived and built our nation. We fought for our independence because we believed it is us Filipinos who will determine our future.

 

This Independence Day, let us honor our heroes by saying no to this bleak reality that is being forced upon us. We are urging all Filipinos to join our call to break free from plastic and break free from coal. Our future, as Filipinos, as a nation, depends on it.