An environmental forum about Climate Justice was conducted last January 24, 2013 by The Clarion- the official student publication of the Davao Doctor’s College- and in the cooperation of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines- Mindanao chapter.
The main speaker of the said forum was Jolan Suazo, a member of the Panalipdan Southern Mindanao region conveyor.
He explained that the forum does not only focus on Climate Change as a reason for the recent natural calamities like Typhoon Pablo but also tackled how this global phenomena is related to the unjust social system.
As a starter for his forum, he presented an output of a research conducted by the BALSA Mindanao. This organization published a primer presenting the causes and consequences as of the devastation brought by the typhoon.
Within this research, Department of Trade and Industry revealed that Pablo destroyed 18% of the banana plantations (14,000-15,000 hectares).
It left 10,000 banana plantation workers with no job.
A place became isolated because of the destroyed bridge in Baganga, Davao Oriental.
The speaker also showed photos comparing the former and current state of some places affected by the flood. An example of this was Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Compostella Valley. The dominant green was now replaced with rocks and mud.
Suazo also declared that Mindanao is no longer typhoon-proof proven by the unusual occurrences of typhoon Sendong and Pablo.
“Pablo is the strongest within 40 years. Titang was in the 1970’s but the impact and devastation was lesser compared to Pablo,” he said.
For him, Pablo was a man-made disaster. He claimed it to be man-made because humanity greatly contributed to it through greenhouse gases, massive deforestation, excessive use of fossil fuels, immoderate use of coal-fired power plants, destructive mining, and crisis with garbage.
He blamed all of these causes to the “Domination of Capitalism” clearly shown in the anarchy in production, unregulated use of natural resources, overproduction, culture of consumerism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and massive use of coal for factories.
Suazo said that these resulted not only the creation of intense hurricanes, cyclones tornadoes and typhoons like Pablo but also of the 2003 heat wave in Europe, melting of glaciers, increase of sea level, biodiversity loss and extinction, bleaching of corals, drought and increase incident rates of dengue and leptospirosis.
“The poor are the most vulnerable and the most affected. It is very unjust. This is not just a scientific issue but also a matter of social issue,” he expressed.
He cited the victims of Pablo as one of those who were hit due to the problems that supposedly came from causes that started during the Industrial Revolution.
He blamed the loss of lives due to lack of preparedness in the community.
“There were no reliable evacuation centers. Many sheltered and died in these places during the storm. Hazard maps were not used. There was disaster preparedness program,” he explained.
Also involved in this injustice, according to Suazon, is the government. The government is responsible for protecting foreign companies operating within the country’s jurisdiction.
Suazon criticized the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 for making this possible.
“There are 16 logging permits in Davao Oriental that will expire in 2034. There is a log ban that exempts a few. Oplan Bayanihan is used to protect these mining companies’ interests,” he said.
He explained that these are some of the reasons why the barricade of the Pablo victims happened.
“Oplan Bayanihan has formed the largest private military. The military’s rehab and relief are a façade,” he further added.
Suazon concluded that the information that he shared is a call for fast effective relief goods distribution, comprehensive investigation, and prosecution of environmental plunderers and corrupt government officials.
It is also a call for a change in certain policies. Suazon expressed his desire of stopping large-scale & foreign mining companies, of replacing of Philippine Mining Act of 1995 with People’s pro-environment Philippine Mining Act, of using renewable energy, and of rehabilitating and reconstructing of homes and livelihood.