MANILA -- The Philippines should reconsider its move to stop sending delegates to climate change conferences, which will deprive it of the chance to assert its interests, an environment advocacy group said Thursday.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said he would reject "all official participation" in climate change conferences that would require air travel.
"Given the fact that the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis, we will need to stand up," said Rodne Galicha, executive director of the Climate Action for Sustainability Initiative.
"We will not have any chance to argue, whenever there are decisions, we're not part of that decision. If we have our national interest, then we need to assert it. Who will speak in behalf of the Filipino people?" he said.
Non-government organizations are "not allowed to speak and negotiate" in conferences because this is the exclusive task of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Galicha said.
Locsin earlier said, "We'll just vote Yes to radical proposals. No more talk."
On Twitter, Locsin said the Philippines would still raise climate arguments and proposals through the internet.
"A Nauru UN conference in New York said that using air travel to talk about climate change makes the climate worse. Internet na lang (We'll just use the internet). Clean communication," he said.
Locsin's pronouncement came days after President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday lamented the lack of accountability for big countries contributing to pollution, adding that it affects the "poorest of our poor" the most.
The Philippines is among nations most vulnerable to climate change. It constantly deals with heavy monsoon rains and is battered by an average of 20 typhoons per year.
Manila is a party to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which aims to slash greenhouse gases and keep global temperature increases to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius.
Under the accord, the Philippines promised to cut carbon emissions by 70 percent by year 2030, even if the country is not a major emitter.
The President earlier expressed misgivings about the climate pact, saying it favored industrialized countries.