Ten years have already passed but the harrowing memory of the world’s strongest typhoon, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), remains fresh among Filipinos. We heard the people cry for justice after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged nine regions in the central part of our country, when six thousand people lost their lives, over 1 million lost their homes, and around 4 million people were displaced. A decade later, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) continues to echo these cries for justice.
The NCCP remembers the people who died from the mega-disaster, families and communities still struggling to recover and rebuild their lives, those who suffer from trauma and have yet to achieve complete healing, those who were repeatedly struck by various forms of disasters and violence post-Yolanda; and stands in solidarity with community and peoples’ organizations who showed genuine pintakasi or bayanihan among marginalized sectors and communities.
While survivors showed exemplary stories of resilience, NCCP continues to amplify call for justice for Yolanda survivors, and all communities in climate-vulnerable areas in the country. The two previous administrations have already passed, from former presidents Benigno Aquino Jr. to Rodrigo Duterte, however, promises of comprehensive assistance are yet to be completely fulfilled1. Amid the snail-paced rehabilitation, Eastern Visayas and other Yolanda-affected areas are still plagued with greenwashing, false climate solutions, and ecologically destructive projects under the current administration. For instance, the construction of a 3.46 billion Tacloban city causeway project is currently threatening to disrupt the marine biological environment in Cancabato Bay, the livelihoods of the small fisherfolks, and the potential harm to the reforested mangrove area in Barangay Paraiso, San Jose in Tacloban City which serves as a natural shield and protection from strong storm surges2. We are also alarmed by the escalated open-pit mining activities in Homonhon Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar that are already altering the island’s natural landscape.3
We, the people of faith, express deep discontentment with the continued inadequate climate actions, ecological protection, and disaster preparedness and mitigation in our national government programs. We are distressed that empty promises of climate actions are covering up the horrific destruction happening in disaster and climate-vulnerable communities. Regrettably, we deeply fear that another mega-disaster is bound to happen as we have not seen scaled-up disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation programs in the country.
We are also alarmed over the state of civic spaces in rural communities, especially those who have witnessed extreme militarization over the past few years, such as Eastern Samar. The NCCP’s call for justice extend to local humanitarian and development workers, environmentalists, rights defenders, community organizers, and church workers who also became subjects of red-tagging, threats, direct attacks, and illegal arrests. We are witnessing how human rights violations have directly impeded the grassroots communities’ efforts to become climate resilient.
On this tenth year of commemorating Super Typhoon Yolanda, we reiterate our call and prayer for climate justice. This call for climate justice shall be a call for transparency and proper management of funds intended for DRRM and climate adaptation. It is also a call for healthier, safer civic spaces wherein people have the liberty to protect the environment and organize themselves and their communities to become climate resilient – without any fear of being red-tagged or threatened. Our yearning and cry for justice for Yolanda survivors remains alive, and extends to a cry for climate justice for the most affected peoples and areas across the world. We yearn for shared solutions to address the needs of the most affected countries and accountability and meaningful action from the richest and highest carbon emitters and polluters. We broaden our call for climate solutions based on self-determination and sovereignty, and upon an economic framework that pushes for and strengthens sustainable development and green, just and transition, especially for under-developed and developing nations.
11 November 2023
REV. FELIPE B. EHICAN, JR.
THE MOST REV. JOEL O. PORLARES
DCN. DR. GAY B. MANODON
MA. KAY CATHRINE F. ALMARIO
MS. MINNIE ANNE M. CALUB
Acting General Secretary