Free Palestine!

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people against the systemic violence and oppression perpetuated by the Israeli government and military which has caught the world’s attention in the past few days but has existed since the early 20th century.

The state of Israel was established as reparations for the appalling antisemitism and ethnic cleansing of Jews that happened in World War II, but the land of Palestine was not for Britain to give away. The erasure of Palestine’s history and people by the Israeli government during the Nakba in the mid-1900s and the immense scale of the violence inflicted by the state of Israel on the Palestinian people in the present day [1] makes it clear that this is not a conflict — as conflicts are two-sided — but extermination.

As advocates for climate justice, first and foremost, we must recognize that the fight for our climate, our present and our future does not exist in a vacuum. The profit-oriented system that causes the climate crisis is directly rooted in colonialism and systemic oppression. Often, the people exposed to violence and actively oppressed are those most vulnerable to the climate crisis, yet are also the least responsible.

Militarization is in itself a significant contributor to the climate crisis. Bulk purchasing of fossil energy to meet military logistics demands and fuel the devastation of an entire people can only be unnecessary in the context of our current climate emergency. Due to Israeli militarization and occupation, many Palestinians also face water shortage issues and threats to food security, which are only exacerbated by climate change [2].

We must understand that the violence on the part of the Israel state is mainly perpetrated and condoned by their current government and ruling elite backed by the United States [3][4], and not Jews or the people of Israel in general, which would include fellow youth climate activists. But in solidarity with the most affected and oppressed, we must all be critical of the past and present decisions of the state of Israel.

Climate justice is social justice. It is our duty as activists, as people, to stand in solidarity with the most oppressed. This crisis being driven by the Israeli government must be resolved at its roots. We must stand with the Palestinian people in calling for their liberation in the means they see necessary.

Support Palestinian liberation groups and movements:
@letstalkpalestine
bdsmovement.net

#FreePalestine
#SaveSheikhJarrah
#SaveGaza

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2021/05/12/the-human-cost-of-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-over-the-past-decade-infographic/?sh=2aa05b74457b
[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/opinions/2019/11/28/palestine-is-a-climate-justice-issue
[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/17/power-up-biden-administration-approves-735-million-weapons-sale-israel-raising-red-flags-some-house-democrats/
[4] https://abc7.com/biden-israel-palestine-conflict-2021-why-are-and-hamas-fighting-gaza/10625463/

#MayoUno2021 Statement

On 1 May 1886, the resolution calling for the adoption of the eight-hour day at the 1885 convention of the American Federation of Labor has become effective. Decades and years past, the movement advocating for a more pro-people and pro-environment workspace is still alive. We stand together with the workers as we call for national minimum wage and aid from the government. As we face the crises today, only by heeding the calls of the masses can we truly achieve our call for just recovery.

#MayoUno2021
#10KAyudaIbigayNa
#AyudangSapatParaSaLahat

We Stand with Myanmar!

Democracy is letting people’s voices be heard.

Since February 1, 2021, Myanmar has been fighting against the militarization and control of power as their elected democratic leader, Suu Kyi, has been detained.

Now, their military commander, Min Aung Hlaing, is in charge. This unjust turn of event caused a coup where students, teachers, lawyers, government workers, and bank officers protested. Their protests are met by water cannon, rubber bullets, and live ammunition by the side of the security forces and on March 27, 2021, more than 100 people were killed.

We, at YACAP, stand in solidarity with the environmental defenders who are part of the protests being done and people in Myanmar who are being deprived of their right to choose their leader. As part of our points of unity, we stand up for system change and support the fight against tyranny.

To the people in Myanmar, we raise our voices and uphold your democratic rights. We see you and we fight with you!

#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar

SIGNATORY ORGANIZATIONS
Agham Youth
APTAS
Batangas State University College of Arts and Sciences Student Council
Saribuhay
University of the Philippines College of Science Student Council
University of the Philippines Association of Biology Majors
University of the Philippines Geology Majors’ Society
University of the Philippines Zoological Society



Remembering Kidapawan

In 2016, thousands of farmers from North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, and Compostella Valley protested to demand for sacks of rice, seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides as they struggle during the El Nino Season. The farmers, along with their families, are starving and they only demanded for the governor to provide them their basic needs. Unfortunately, their demand was not heard and the peaceful protest turned into a massacre as protesters were killed, arrested, injured and went missing.

If the people vulnerable to the climate crisis are treated this way for crying for help, one can only imagine what the state can do as our situation worsens. Five years have passed yet these marginalized groups are still on the same situation, asking for the same needs they deserve to receive from the administration. As the climate crisis rises, farmers are prone to the impacts of climate change. We need to put pressure and demand proper governance, uphold farmers’ rights, and ensure this event won’t happen again.

We, at YACAP, stand in solidarity as we remember the farmers who fought for their families’ needs. Alongside the crafting of a better and sustainable system, the government must ensure that no one gets left behind. The growing needs of people must, not only be addressed, but also not approached with violence and impunity.

#StopTheAttacks #DefendTheDefenders

Youth climate groups to Standard Chartered Bank: “Clean up your dirty business!”

FRIDAY, MARCH 19 2021 | Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), 350.org Pilipinas, and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KPNE) staged a protest action at the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) office in Makati City today to demand that the bank stop funding coal-fired power plants and other environmentally destructive projects in the Philippines and around the world. This was done as part of the Global Climate Strike and #CleanUpStandardChartered campaign, initiated by the Fridays for Future international climate movement sparked by Greta Thunberg, calling for an end to all investments in the fossil fuel industry and to say #NoMoreEmptyPromises to world leaders and key players.

“Standard Chartered Bank, stop funding our destruction! You poured over 1.8 billion USD into coal monsters, Aboitiz Equity Ventures and San Miguel Corporation through Top Frontier Investment Holdings, in our country. Do you understand the pain that you bring to Filipinos? We have lived through the heartache and devastation of the climate crisis. What you’re doing with coal is fueling the crisis and is taking away my future and the future of all Filipino youth.” said Mitzi Jonelle Tan, international spokesperson of YACAP. “Enough empty promises. Across the nation and the planet, the youth, alongside the most impacted communities, are standing up against this injustice. If you’re really “here for good” like you say in your slogan, then divest from coal. Choose the people and planet over the profit.”

Alongside the protest in Makati, on-ground mobilizations were also held by other youth and grassroots organizations in other parts of the country, some of which are continually  affected by SCB-funded projects. These included actions in Pangasinan, Batangas, Leyte, Misamis Oriental, and Metro Manila.

We’re striking in my city today because we’re the ones directly affected by all these dirty businesses Standard Chartered is funding,” said Aldrich Macatangay, a member of YACAP from Batangas City. “Standard Chartered, if you don’t listen to our demands now, remember us as the people you’re willingly turning your backs on even when we’re standing here, clearly and explicitly underlining what we want and why we need this. Remember us as the people you’re trading in to deepen your pockets with more money. We’ll remember you, and the world will remember you. All you’re doing is fueling our anger.

Activists participating in the #CleanUpStandardChartered campaign plan in the short term to stop the bank from financing companies that participate in the coal industry, and in the long term to have the bank phase out all fossil fuel financing. The effects of fossil fuel-driven climate change has already affected entire nations across the globe, including the Philippines, which was battered by four typhoons last year in the span of a month; one of them, Typhoon Rolly, was the strongest storm landfall in recorded history.

The catastrophic effects of climate change can already be felt all across the globe, and the very people who are standing at the frontlines of environmental defense and are struggling for their voices to be heard are the ones who are continually targeted, harassed, vilified, and even killed,” said Eco Dangla, Convenor of the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment.  “If we’re to construct a solid, sustainable, and just climate policy, it is an absolute necessity to include and ensure the rights and welfare of our environmental defenders, who are often also part of the most vulnerable, marginalized, and exploited sectors of society.
So many plans and promises have been made, but we have yet to see those plans crystallize into concrete, effective, and immediate steps towards mitigating the effects of climate change,” said Xian Guevarra, national coordinator of YACAP. “The climate emergency is an emergency – and we need to start treating it like one. With the continued extraction and investment in fossil fuels, the prioritization of the wallets of the few, and the perpetuation of empty promises, however, humanity’s battle with the climate crisis is far from being resolved.

Contact: Smrz Dancel, Media Liaison
yacaphilippines@gmail.com, (+63)921-891-8498 / (+63)915-139-5847 

Link to this press release: http://bit.ly/yacap319pr

Editorial note: Pictures of strikes from across the globe and across the country: https://fffutu.re/scbmarch19media

IN PHOTOS: March 19 #NoMoreEmptyPromises Global Climate Strike

The Philippines joined the youth on every continent for the global climate strike last March 19, 2021 by coordinating various physical and digital actions across the country. Find out below how some Filipino climate activists spent their day that day.

In Makati City, National Capital Region, youth activists brought the fight to the doorstep of Standard Chartered and called for the immediate end of coal investment by the bank. Bank representatives received our demand letter, as well as a giant 60″ x 30″ check displaying the amount of funding provided by Standard Chartered to local companies involved in coal. So, you know, they don’t forget about us too easily. (Photos courtesy of 350 Pilipinas / Leo Sabangan)

Young residents of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental also took part in the Global Climate Strike with their own witty placards and banners drawing heavily from hugot culture. No matter what our relationship status is, for sure we can all agree that big banks can do much better than their current toxic significant other.

We make our way north from Mindanao to Tacloban, Leyte in Visayas, where strikers held up signs with the calls #CleanEnergyNow, #RaiseYourStandards, and #DefendEnviDefenders. As we should recall, Tacloban bore the brunt of the devastation in 2013 from the costliest typhoon to ever hit the country, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Student activists from Laguna took part in an action outside a university in Los Baños, where they distributed pamphlets on how exactly big banks are funding the climate crisis — a great way to get our message across to people outside our immediate social media bubbles.

Dagupan City, Pangasinan saw a climate strike conducted by the youth and other sectors of society, where they called for an end to coal as well as the rejection of proposed waste-to-energy plants in the province. Pangasinan is home to the largest coal plant in the Philippines, which is owned by San Miguel Corporation, which in turn is funded by — you guessed it — Standard Chartered Bank. Their program was cut short by the police, but thankfully no one was arrested. (Photos courtesy of Anakbayan Pangasinan)

And just look at what these Batangueños did — vibrant, wonderful, beautiful artworks. Our youth strikers from Batangas sure went all the way with their strike in terms of visuals.

We capped the long day off with a short online action featuring Nicole Rath from Urgewald and Eco Dangla from Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment as speakers. Participants got the chance to participate in the strike digitally and show off their homemade placards (and what wonderful placards they made, too).

Justice for the Victims of the Bloody Sunday!

Trigger warning: violence, death, murder

A few days after Duterte ordered the police and military to kill people and forget about human rights, the gruesome massacre of various activists and environmental defenders happened.

Anti-reclamation mass leader Ka Manny Asuncion, fisherfolk leaders Chai and Ariel Evangelista, disaster survivors and relief operations members Melvin Dasigao and Makmak Bacasno were among the 9 people who were killed that day. 4 human rights defenders were also detained that same day.

To date, at least 30 activists were killed in Southern Tagalog ever since Duterte stepped in office. It is clear that the current administration has absolutely zero care about the lives of the innocent, painting them as terrorists then killing them the next day. The issue of red-tagging and terror-tagging has been rapidly increasing with the government being the number 1 perpetuator of this act to silence everyone that speaks up about the incompetence of the administration.

We stand in solidarity with the defenders in Southern Tagalog. We call for justice for the slain and for the arrested to be free. We call for the removal of the Anti-terrorism Law, the tool used to legalize the arrests and justify the killings of activists.

We call for the green new leadership we have always mentioned, a leadership that will put the people and the planet over their own political and personal gain.

This week has been hard for all of us, but as we mourn, we are also filled with rage. The people, united, will never be defeated.

#DefendTheDefenders
#StopTheAttacks
#DefendST

Standard Chartered Bank, stop funding our destruction!

This open letter by our International Coordinator Mitzi Jonelle Tan was originally published in Bulatlat last February.

Dear Mr. Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank,

Before reading, you may want to know that by writing these lines I am putting my life in danger. This may sound dramatic to anyone in the UK or Europe but it is the harsh reality of activists on the ground defending themselves against the projects you finance. So be assured, Sir, this letter is not written in the spur of the moment, but I see no other way than to bring to light what Standard Chartered is doing in this part of the world.

My name is Mitzi Jonelle Tan. I am an activist with Fridays for Future Philippines and I want to tell you that your money kills people, fuels the climate crisis, and destroys our homes. No other bank puts more money into coal plants and mines in my country than Standard Chartered. Your official slogan is “here for good.” Yet, Standard Chartered finances the pollution of our water, makes our air unbreathable, and toxifies the soil we live on.

San Miguel Corporation, which you finance through its parent company, has been evicting people from their homes, stealing land from farmers, and causing small fisherfolk to lose their livelihood. The companies you finance bring down ashfall on everyone, covering homes with a soot that also smothers their cries of anger, and send armed men to destroy the communities of those who have been fighting back. This would not be possible if not for Standard Chartered bankrolling these projects silently in the background and profiting from it. “We will make sure to cut your head off.” “Respect us, you’ll start begging soon.” This is a taste of what one of our staunch environmental activists hears and receives. The government even called a priest a terrorist because he publicly spoke about the environmental destruction these coal plants are causing. These two incidents happened in Sual, Pangasinan — where my country’s biggest coal plant is located, which Standard Chartered financed.

Between 2016 and 2020 alone, Standard Chartered sunk over US$ 1.6 billion into Top Frontier Investment Holdings, the parent company of San Miguel Corporation. But Standard Chartered’s destruction goes far beyond the Philippines. Standard Chartered says it supports the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions, but has funneled over $24 billion into fossil fuels since it was signed. Other banks like BNP Paribas have set clear deadlines for phasing out coal completely, but Standard Chartered’s current policy will see it still fund major coal companies until 2030, when science tells us that this has to stop at the latest last year.

Mr. Winters, I’ve seen your statement in which you contemplate “an opportunity to take some bold decisions that would be a turning point for our planet”. You applauded yourself for ceasing project-bound loans to coal companies, but this makes up only a tiny percentage of your coal finance. The vast majority of all coal financing takes place through non-project-bound financing. This is nothing more than a shoddy greenwashing trick risking my future. The climate crisis is a very real threat to people like me.

I remember spending several nights last year doing my homework by the candle light — our electricity was gone because of the raging typhoon outside, the strongest typhoon on the planet last year. Do you know what that is like, Sir? To be afraid to wake up one day and you have no choice but to climb to the roof with your family in order to possibly survive? I do not want to be afraid of drowning in my own bedroom anymore or having to sit in the dark listening to a battery powered radio to try to get news about the cities where my relatives live. I do not want to be afraid of my house being raided by hired goons of coal projects. I do not want to be afraid of being killed or abducted by the masked men protecting your profit. So I rise above the waves of fear, as thousands of activists have done before me, to ask you to stop this madness.

The environmental and climate crisis happening in the Philippines, the injustices done to our defenders and activists, Standard Chartered’s funding of our destruction creates a perfect storm. The raging winds and howls of the people’s movement are coming. We are striking like lightning in the night and downpouring our demands. Filipinos have closed down mines, toppled down dictators, and brought upon the downfall of so many companies doing injustices in the past.

Mr. Winters, if you actually want to be “here for good,” stop funding our destruction. Even Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, urged countries to stop building new coal plants by 2020.

Stop all types of financing to any company which is still building new coal assets in 2021. But this is only the first step. In order to even have the slightest chance of staying below 1.5°C, we also need a complete phase out of all financing activities for companies that have oil and gas expansion plans or are active in unconventional oil and gas (fracking, Arctic drilling, tar sands, ultra-deep-water drilling). If profit is continuously chosen over our lives, a downpour worse than ashfall and the strongest typhoon is going to come. The Fridays for Future movement is here to collect the dues you owe to the people. We have only just begun…

Asia’s Climate Crisis

The Philippines may be one of the worst impacted countries by the climate crisis, but there are many other nations in Asia that are experiencing similar situations. Other countries in Southeast Asia, as well as South Asia, also regularly experience intense rains and typhoons, and similarly have inadequate infrastructure to mitigate the effects of climate change. We also have countries in Asia that are particularly affected by drought, which has implications on their food security as well as human health. With Asia housing more than half of the world’s population, it’s important to highlight the worsening climate situation of the continent.

The upcoming Asia Climate Rally on November 28 intends to amplify the voices, climate concerns, and demands of people all across Asia. In the mass media, Western manifestations of the climate crisis — melting ice caps, starving polar bears — often overshadow the effects of climate change on many other parts of Asia. It should also be noted that the Asian continent is currently the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but this is mainly because of China, Japan, and South Korea which contribute significantly to global emissions. Most Asian countries also suffer the most from the most severe consequences of climate change, such as typhoons, droughts, and rising sea levels.

This situationer sheds light on how Asia’s natural resources are being aggressively exploited, and how this profit-oriented over-extraction (and subsequent overproduction of emissions) has led us to our current situation. It also talks about the Paris Climate Agreement’s efforts to curb the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and its shortcomings as an accord. Lastly, it ends with the youth’s role in preventing the terrible effects of rapid climate change and their demands in this year’s Asia Climate Rally.

Read the whole research article written by the Asia Climate Rally Education Team at https://tinyurl.com/AsiaClimateSituationer2020.

Demand Accountability!

The Philippines has been hit by four tropical cyclones in a span of three weeks. Communities are still suffering from loss of homes, livelihoods and lives, amidst the pandemic. This is the terrible reality our country is facing as it lies in the world’s most cyclone-prone area, averaging 20 tropical cyclones each year crossing the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), with about 8 or 9 landfalls [1].

As observed, for the past years tropical cyclones in the country are becoming more extreme and increasing in frequency. This could be due to rising sea surface temperature of 0.6°–1°C since the 1970sand rising of sea level faster than the global average as a result of climate change. However, climate change may not directly cause a particular storm, but changes mentioned can worsen its impact and hazard posed threatening permanent inundation of communities ill equipped to handle this kind of situation. [2]

The marginalized, many of whom live in temporary shelters and low-lying areas, are most at risk, lacking the resources to prevent the threat of coastal inundation and storm surge. These concerns are not new to us, yet our government has failed to prepare for the effects of the typhoon, choosing to cancel Project NOAH, defund the budget for calamity funds, and encourage deforestation, mining, and commercialization. Not to mention, Duterte has still no concrete plans for environmental protection after his promise at his first SONA that climate change is his priority. The killing of environmental defenders,logging, and full foreign ownership of large scale mining and geothermal exploration operations persist, destroying our environment and allowing us to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change.

Properties submerged in flood, power outages, and food and water scarcity, are just manifestations of government incompetence and negligence towards the effects of climate change. We should DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY from our government officials in failing to respond in times of calamities urgently and adequately.We must DEMAND CLIMATE ACTION NOW! We should demand our government to declare a climate emergency to take urgent action to solve the climate crisis and hold them liable along with big corporations.

We demand a system change!

#ClimateActionNow #SystemChangeNotClimateChange #WeDemandAccountability