House forum tackles policies and strategies to ensure follow through of resolution

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — A forum at the House of Representatives today gathered members of Congress, representatives from national government agencies, environment groups, climate-survivor communities, scientists, and climate activists to plot out crucial next steps to ensure the historic Climate Emergency Declaration, passed by Congress last week, delivers concrete climate action for the benefit of Filipinos.

Aftermath of Typhoon Vamco in the Philippines. © Basilio H. Sepe / Greenpeace
Residents wade through a flooded street with thick mud and debris to retrieve their belongings following the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) in Rodriguez, Rizal. Typhoon Ulysses on November 12 battered the northern Philippines with heavy rains and strong winds knocking out power in several provinces including areas in Metro Manila and leaving thousands homeless and damaged or destroyed establishments along its path as it blew west. © Basilio H. Sepe / Greenpeace

The forum on Thursday [1], co-organized by Greenpeace Philippines and the Committee on Climate Change of the House of Representatives, recognized the significance of House Resolutions supporting the declaration of Climate Emergency [2], and acknowledged “it was only the beginning.” 

Advocates said that the declaration of climate emergency in the Philippines must be followed by concrete measures that will pursue commitment from private corporations, including the “carbon majors [3],” to stop their climate-destructive and people-harming business practices. 

Bicol-based youth climate activist and Typhoon Rolly (Goni) survivor Bill Bontigao said the climate emergency declaration must be used to ensure that the rights and well-being of the youth and frontline communities are protected. 

“The youth have seen and experienced enough for us to demand accountability and demand a better normal, this is for us and for the future generations. The Big Polluters are hiding behind greenwashing [and they need] to realize that they have an obligation, particularly to those who are susceptible or prone to anthropogenic climate change,” said Bontigao, the president of the Bicol University – Science Alliance Club. 

Bohol Representative Edgar Chatto, Chairperson of the House Committee on Climate Change, also noted that aside from demanding accountability from wealthier nations, the Philippines must address the role of private entities. 

According to Cong. Chatto, “The House Resolution Declaring a Climate and Environmental Emergency is not a mere symbolic gesture but is an instrument that aims to ensure coherent actions in the executive and legislative agenda of government. [But] national actions, as we have envisioned, may also not be enough in order to fully address the climate emergency being experienced by our kababayans.”

He added, “Although our carbon emissions are very low compared to developed countries, we are the second most vulnerable country to the climate crisis. [A]round the world, many communities, scientists, and legal experts are showing that there are basis to hold those most responsible for the climate crisis accountable for the impacts that are compromising the existence and dignities of the communities.” 

The House Resolution 1377, authored by Chatto and Deputy Speaker Rep. Loren Legarda, is one of the first declarations to recognize the role of corporations in the climate crisis. Among the key components of the resolution is to call on major carbon emitters, locally and abroad, to take responsibility for climate change, and reinvest in renewable and sustainable energy. The declaration also encouraged local governments to issue climate emergency declarations. In the forum, advocates renewed the call for the need to seek accountability from corporations, such as but not limited to changes in business models, and commitments to redirect investments to renewable energy.

‘Only a starting point’ 

During the forum, Chatto, along with Masbate Rep. Elisa Kho, Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Climate Change, confirmed that the House of Representatives is in talks with the Senate to file a counterpart resolution. 

Meanwhile, Atty. Rachel Herrera, commissioner at the Climate Change Commission, said the Commission is looking at mobilizing investments for renewable energy, citing green financing as a crucial step to lessen the vulnerabilities of communities. 

“All investments and economic planning should have climate context embedded,” Herrera said. “There is a promising framework from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on sustainable frameworks telling the banks or the private financial institution that they must integrate environmental and social risks in their investments. Banks must be in the lead and greening investments, thus, putting money towards clean energy and green technologies.” 

Greenpeace believes that as the government lays down concrete plans for national action, and as the President calls for climate justice from wealthier nations responsible for most of the emissions, holding companies responsible is equally critical to moving forward on climate justice. 

“The Declaration must lead to clear and concrete measures that will pursue accountability from both carbon majors and industrialized nations’” Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Naderev “Yeb” Saño said. “Moving forward from these declarations, we must recognize that the climate crisis is not just about disasters, but about the food crisis, water crisis, oceans crisis, biodiversity crisis. It’s about livelihoods, health, jobs, and having a roof over one’s head, it is about the basic rights and dignities of people, hence it is crucial that the call be rooted in justice.”

Notes to editors: 

[1] The forum, titled “Far from over: How will the climate emergency declaration work?” gathered community representatives, Greenpeace Philippines Country Director Lea Guerrero, international experts such as Dr.Brenda Ekwurzelof the Union of Concerned Scientists, Atty. Carroll Muffett of the Center for International Environmental Law. Representative Elisa Kho, Climate Change Commissioner Atty. Rachel Herrero, DENR Climate Change Division Chief Mr. Albert Magalang also attended the forum. You may watch the forum here:  

[2] The House of Representatives recently adopted House Resolution No. 1377, declaring a climate and environmental emergency to ensure “enhanced and coherent climate actions in the executive and legislative agenda of the government.” The resolution was authored by Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, Climate Change Committee Chairperson Rep. Edgar Chatto, Bayan Muna Partylist’s Eufemia Cullamat, and the late Cebu City Rep. Raul del Mar. Albay Representative Joey Salceda’s House Resolution No. 535 was also adopted, eyeing an enjoined whole-of-government, whole-of-nation, and whole-of-society mobilization on disaster and climate emergency.  

[3] At present, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines is investigating the responsibility of 47 investor-owned fossil fuel and companies, the carbon majors, for climate harms. 

Media contact: 

Angeli Cantillana
Communications Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines 
[email protected] | +63 998 595 9733

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