Among those scheduled to speak are 27-year-old research nurse Marielle Bacason, whose family home was destroyed when Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated Tacloban City on Nov. 8, 2013. The harrowing experience changed their lives forever.
Marielle Trixie Bacason/facebook
Filipino survivors of extreme weather testify in London
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - November 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino survivors of extreme weather events are currently in London to give personal testimonies at a landmark inquiry to determine whether the world’s largest carbon producers are violating the human rights of communities most affected by climate change.

Among those scheduled to speak are 27-year-old research nurse Marielle Bacason, whose family home was destroyed when Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated Tacloban City on Nov. 8, 2013. The harrowing experience changed their lives forever.

“You could not distinguish the roads, with dead bodies of people and animals everywhere. We feared for our safety every day, especially during the night. We just wanted to leave Tacloban... I was traumatized,” Bacason said.

“All I ask of these big companies is to allow our children, grandchildren and the future generations to be able to enjoy an unspoiled planet. I just ask that they consider the long-term effects of their actions,” she added.

The investigation by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is the first of its kind to be launched by an independent constitutional office.

It is considering whether 47 coal, oil, gas and cement companies endanger lives and livelihoods by knowingly contributing to the devastating impacts of climate change through carbon pollution from their products and business activities.

The investigation was triggered in 2015 by a legal petition filed before the CHR by representatives of communities and organizations across the Philippines.

The CHR will be holding hearing sessions in London – one of the financial hubs for the fossil fuel industry.

The hearings started yesterday at the London School of Economics.

“Five years after Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines, millions of lives are still being affected. The people of Leyte and Samar are still struggling, many of them believing the official death toll of 6,343 is thousands short of the actual number who lost their lives to the strongest storm to ever make landfall in recorded history. But the Waray – people of Eastern Samar, ground zero for the storm – are determined to stand up and make their voice heard with a very clear message that, ‘No one should ever have to go through what we went through’,” said Desiree Llanos Dee, campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Recent hearings in Manila and New York have included testimonies from world-renowned climate and human rights experts, and the accounts of communities on the climate frontlines in the Philippines.

All of the companies named in the petition have been invited to participate in the hearings but have so far refused to take part.

“The probabilities of many potentially damaging extreme weather events, including heat waves and short-duration extreme precipitation events, increase predictably with rising global temperatures,” said Myles Allen, coordinating lead author of the recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, who will be giving evidence at the London hearings.

“Hence this hearing provides a basis for relating harm associated with extreme weather events with attributable changes in global temperature,” Allen said.

The inquiry is part of a growing number of investigations across the world, where people are applying pressure on governments and fossil fuel companies to demand more ambitious climate action. 

“This landmark investigation is not just for Filipinos but for vulnerable communities everywhere. We are seeing a growing global movement of people who are not just asking questions of accountability, but who are ready to stand up to big polluters largely responsible for the climate crisis,” Dee said.

Following the London hearing will be a final public inquiry in the Philippines to be held on Dec. 11 to 12.

It is expected that the CHR will wrap up its investigation by the end of the year and issue its findings in early 2019.

CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TYPHOON YOLANDA
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