September, then and now
September brings in a flurry of activities to remind us of the distant past which brought us into the present and all the hurdles that come in the package, and which should compel us to do what has to be done to be in a path of shared focus, determination and unity to bring a future that all children deserve to have.
September 21 marks the 47th year since Proclamation No. 1081 declaring Martial Law in the entire country was signed by the dictator and later deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos. From 1972 to 1981, 3,240 were killed, 70,000 people were imprisoned and 34,000 tortured, according to human rights organization, Amnesty International. Martial law deprived the people of civil and political liberties despite our commitment to respect human rights as one of the signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution and laws operating that time.
When democracy was restored in 1986 with the People Power revolution, we said “Never again” to Martial Law. The 1987 Constitution’s provisions to strengthen democratic institutions and protect human rights, including environmental rights, are the cornerstones of that collective resolve to protect the honor and dignity of each individual and live “under the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace”(Preamble of the 1987 Constitution).
Fast forward to the present, the onslaught of challenges impair the precious rights that our State guaranteed never to be transgressed under our Constitution and the multitude of laws and international conventions that the Philippines committed to comply. These include violations of human rights and environmental rights which are intertwined. The destruction of the natural life support systems such as our water, oceans, forests and air deeply impact the people’s right to life, health and a healthy environment. The climate crisis we face is exacerbating the already felt impacts of the degraded ecosystems with the anthropogenic pressures that we are responsible for.
Tired of the indifference and neglect of those mandated to protect them, the young citizens, who stand to suffer most from our reckless ways, are stirring the global movement for us, and decision makers especially, to face the climate emergency head-on and act towards science-based and sustainable solutions.
Sixteen year old Swedish activist, Greta Thurnberg, called the “Joan of Arc of climate change, commanding a global army of teenage activists numbering in the millions” started it with a poster ‘SKOLSTREJK FÖR KLIMATET’ (school strike for the climate), alone, in front of the Parliament in August last year. The desolate figure was not even looked at by passersby, according to her, but she was determined to continue her protest. She has since galvanized millions of young people and the forever-young to strengthen the movement forward with strong calls for action.
Join the Global Climate Strike on September 20. Find one in your area. Be the changemaker like Greta Thurnberg. You are never too young to make a difference.
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