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Acknowledging climate emergency

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos February 13,2020 - 07:00 AM

We are just on the second month of 2020. Yet, we seem to be forced to face disasters and matters that are more than we can handle simultaneously with handling continuing threats on our life, health and environment, on a given year.

These include the Taal Volcanic eruption and the displacement of thousands, the issues related to ABS CBN’s franchise renewal and implications on freedom of the press, talks of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and consequent national security implications and of course, the “COVID-19,” formerly known as novel coronavirus, a global health threat, which we hope will be contained soonest.

On top of these, residents in Cebu and other parts of the country have to struggle daily in facing concerns that directly impact them. These include flooding, pollution and the consequent hazards to their life and safety, water scarcity, traffic congestion, and projects that disrupt their way of life such as the dump-and-fill, also known as reclamation and waste disposal facilities.

Proposed landfill project

Residents in Minglanilla are concerned of the proposed landfill project that they fear will impact their right to health, safe water and a healthy environment, with the same reportedly situated in a watershed area. This deserves serious and immediate attention. 

RA 9003, the largely unimplemented Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, requires public participation at each phase/stage of the proposed waste management program. 

Does the local government have the required Solid Waste Management Plan which is a result of participation by stakeholders and duly approved by the National Solid Waste Management Commission? Does it have an updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan which integrates impacts of climate change and where the project is included therein? These are among the many questions that citizens have the right to ask government and the proponents.

Citizens must likewise learn to know their rights and assert them. Academic institutions, and not just non-government organizations, have to reach out to them and enhance their knowledge and awareness, especially those from the most vulnerable sectors who have no access to education.

Climate emergency convention

We congratulate the Archdiocese of Cebu under the leadership of Archbishop Jose Palma and through the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission on Environmental Concerns in gathering over 400 parishioners, partners, stakeholders and powerful speakers in the 2-day Convention on Climate Emergency.

The Church is the first major institution that has acknowledged that we are on a Climate Emergency. By doing so, it looks not just on the challenges but on the effective response to make for a sustainable living amid the impacts of climate change. It is timely that it looked at solutions focused on Renewable Energy, Water, Solid Waste Management, Climate Change and Disaster Resiliency and Marine Conservation.

We hope to see more institutions involved in this collective action for a sustainable common future.  We need to work together and address these issues to ensure that our children will have the bountiful and sustainable life support systems that we used to have decades back. /dbs

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