MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday expressed hopes that the Philippines would remain involved in climate action despite the foreign office's recent decision to stop sending representatives to talks overseas.
In a statement, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said the country should continue participating in global efforts to stop climate change, citing how the Philippines is among the world's most vulnerable to its impact.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has decided to stop sending official representatives to climate conferences but clarified that we will continue to vote through online communication. We hope that despite non-attendance, we will remain active in climate change prevention," she said.
She cited how the Philippines' representation in global climate talks were "not in vain." For one, the country led calls to put the global warming threshold at 1.5 degrees celsius at the Climate Vulnerable Forum in 2015, a limit later enshrined in the Paris climate change agreement, she said.
"Participating in the global discourse can also be an avenue to press for greater responsibility and accountability especially from the primary contributors of global emissions," she said.
De Guia said the country should uphold its commitment to climate change prevention, citing CHR's national inquiry on the "alleged responsibility of major fossil fuel companies to climate change and how this impacts the human rights of Filipinos."
On Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippines would no longer send delegates to climate talks that require air travel.
"We'll just vote Yes to radical proposals. No more talk," he said.
The Philippines is a party to the landmark climate change agreement that seeks to curb greenhouse gases to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.
While among countries with a lower carbon footprint, the Philippines is among those hit hardest by the effects of a changing climate. Some 20 typhoons pass through the country every year, some devastating and deadly.
"The future of humanity is at stake and our country is among those that bear the brunt of this global phenomenon. We, therefore, encourage the government to take advantage of all avenues that aim to address the climate problem," she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier expressed misgivings about the Paris climate pact, saying it favored industrialized countries. He eventually signed the climate change agreement in March 2017.
In a recent speech in Tokyo, meanwhile, he lamented the effects of climate change on developing countries like the Philippines, saying it impacts the "poorest of our poor" the most. He also hit the lack of sanctions on the world's biggest polluters.