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Our reminders and challenges to President Duterte in light of his State of the Nation Address

By Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
July 26, 2016

President Duterte said in his State of the Nation Address, that there are "a few concerns" that he wants to "convey to all" so that "these concerns will not dissipate or get lost along the way."

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice would like to share its own concerns regarding several points in his speech – as reminders and challenges to the President – so that people's concerns will not dissipate or get lost in his administration.

1. ON CLIMATE POLICY – PMCJ welcomes the statement of President Duterte that addressing global warming will be a top priority and that he is committed to a "fair and equitable" solution. Indeed, current global targets to address global warming and climate change are still very far from equitable, with the rich industrialized countries pledging actions that are very short of their fair share. A serious consequence of this inequity is that the aggregate impact of all country targets will still condemn us to nearly 3 degrees Celsius increase in the earth's temperature. This is not consistent with the avowed goal in the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees.

However, we are worried by the President's qualifier to his global warming solution – that "it must not stymie industrialization." Is President Duterte advocating unhampered industrialization? We hope not. Industrialization must be pursued within the bounds of sustainable, rights-based and climate-friendly development pathways, and not the other way around. We believe there are ways to achieve development that is equitable and is in harmony with the welfare of the planet – that is the only kind of development that is in the interest of our people.

We are also alarmed by the President's reference to "clean coal." Is President Duterte falling for this dirty lie, this outdated and false information that coal is cheap? The cost of coal is more than the financial cost of mining coal and building and running coal plants. Even the most state of art in coal energy technology has huge harmful consequences to people's health and environment, that cannot be fully compensated for financially. President Duterte should know that Renewable Energy is not only clean and healthy, the financial cost of building and running renewable energy systems has already achieved parity with coal.

2. ON HUMAN RIGHTS – PMCJ's brand of climate justice is well founded in the defense, protection and fulfilment of human rights. We believe that human rights is central to the principle and goal of climate justice, just as we believe human rights is at the heart of the principle and goal of development.

We are gravely concerned about the President's qualifier to his commitment to human rights, that "human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country." Is President Duterte referring to the many calls and reminders for his administration to uphold human rights in the face of the significant increase in extra-judicial killings? Is this statement a defense is his defense of how his war vs. drugs is being carried out? Yes, we would like to see the illegal drugs industry end. But we are alarmed and condemn the fact that the war on drugs has already claimed the lives of more than 500 individuals without the benefit of due process, many of them from poor and marginalized communities.

President Duterte, you mentioned in your speech that you are going to "wage war against those who make a mockery of our laws." You also said that "equal treatment and equal protection" are what you ask for our people. We will hold you to your words, we will remind you and challenge you to practice what you preach.

While Philippine Movement for Climate Justice will be open to and welcome positive policies of the Duterte Administration, we will be vigilant and relentless in challenging him to pursue genuine change that will truly benefit the people and will be in harmony with environmental and climate justice.

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