MANILA — With movement in Metro Manila still partially restricted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Filipino environmental activists got creative for this year’s global climate strike.
Members of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), the Philippine chapter of the Fridays for Future movement led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, held what they called an “aerial art attack” at University of the Philippines on Friday.
Eight members of the group lay on a large cloth depicting a world map while holding up placards calling for climate action.
Photos of the event also showed banners saying, “Protect Climate Protectors” and “Junk Terror Law.”
“This year, we want to show that it’s time to be hands-on, it’s time to be proactive in the fight against climate change and the people who are actively supporting the system that allows climate change to happen,” said YACAP national coordinator Xian Guevarra in a statement.
The global youth climate strike on September 25 is a concerted effort of environmental groups across the world to demand urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.
YACAP particularly criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly not adhering to the country’s United Nations climate commitments.
“We are on a climate strike amid the pandemic because of Duterte's relentless pursuit of climate disruptive projects like coal power expansion, land reclamation, and aggressive big mining,” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, international spokesperson of YACAP.
The group added: “As the Philippines is one of the world’s most impacted countries when it comes to climate-related disasters, YACAP activists are clamoring for immediate action from world leaders and big businesses in their five keypoint demands: declaration of climate emergency, accountability from large-scale polluters, stronger climate education, protection of environment defenders, and adoption of long-term policies to address climate change.”
Tan said climate activists were being harassed through the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), said his group monitored at least 167 Filipino environmental defenders working in the frontlines of environmental and climate justice killed under the Duterte administration.
“We need a green new leadership that rejects the Anti-Terror Law and instead prioritizes helping climate protectors through a climate-resilient, and public health-oriented ‘green’ recovery plan,” Dulce said.
The groups said more than 2,500 youth-led climate strikes were held throughout the world on Friday.
On Thursday, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned the United Nations Security Council that he feared the worst if the climate crisis was approached with the "same disunity and disarray" of COVID-19.