Climate change petition
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Filipinos are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate emergency. They are, however, also leading the fight to attain climate justice and solutions.

The good news is that Filipinos are awaiting the Resolution to a four-year National Inquiry on Climate Change (NICC), triggered by a Petition filed at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The Petition was filed in 2015 by a group of Filipinos and civil society organizations, including Greenpeace. They all seek CHR to conduct investigation on how the world’s investor-owned fossil fuel companies significantly contributed to climate change and its human rights impacts. 

According to a Greenpeace report, this is significant for two reasons.

First, it is “a first-of-its-kind effort – investigating the responsibility of fossil fuel companies for human rights violations stemming from climate change. Among the tasks in the Petition are finding companies’ responsibility, recommending that policymakers develop and adopt clear and implementable objective standards for corporate reporting of human rights issues in relation to the environment, as well as monitoring vulnerable communities to the impacts of climate change. 

“Second, some of the Petitioners and resource persons for this effort are typhoon survivors and representatives from vulnerable populations. These brave Filipinos are using their experiences and stories to call on major companies to relax their “business-as-usual” stance and to consider the welfare of communities. 

CHR is expected to release the Resolution before the year ends in time for the International Human Rights Day and United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid. 

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Last Nov. 8 to 10, a group of media practitioners went to Panglao island in Bohol for a weekend respite and to write about the various developments in that province especially about its booming tourism industry.  They were received well by the management and officials of the Bohol sites that they visited – Bluewater Panglao accommodations capped by a tree-planting activity within the hotel compound,  the dolphin-watching trip, sightseeing at Isola de Francesco island, looking for fireflies in the dark along the Abatan River in Cortes, a trip to the Bohol Museum in Loay and the exciting river cruise with dinner on the boat in Loboc, with Mayor Leon Calipusan.

This particular trip was so blissful and relaxing, thanks to the hospitality and forward-looking preparations of Pete Dacuycuy, a veteran PR man specializing in tourism who knows his job and does it well. 

Here’s Pete’s report: “We reached the check-in counter of Air Asia in Panglao International Airport some 45 minutes before closing time.  We were just in time for  Z2 355, a 13:25 flight Sunday Nov. 10, 2019.

“We had a group ticket for Flight Z2 355 from Tagbilaran to Manila, with these names – Pedro “Boo” Chanco, Theresa Chanco, Diego Cagahastian, Corazon Cagahastian, Pete Dacuycuy (all senior citizens) and  Benjamin Layug,  Via Marie Claire Baroma, Grace Louise Santiano, Kristelle Bechayda, and Leica Dacuycuy.

“The Air Asia counter in-charge in Panglao Airport said due to a glitch in their computer system only FOUR passengers could be accommodated – Via Marie Claire Baroma, Grace Louise Santiago, Kristelle Bechayda and Leica Dacuycuy.  The seniors and Layug had to wait for the next flight some 2 hours later.”

“The irregular thing here,” writes Pete Dacuycuy is that being the host during the trip “I was made to pay at least P10,000 for a rebooking fee for the six passengers not accommodated or shall we say off-loaded by Air Asia.  They were at the airport ready to board but were not accepted, then charged again with rebooking fee to be able to make it on the next flight to Manila.

“While seated for almost one hour in this succeeding flight, Diego Cagahastian on Seat No. 4 was even challenged to produce his boarding pass which he did, presumably because there is another passenger with the same seat number. ‘Double seating,’ he heard the stewardess tell her colleague. Does this mean that in these 2 flights of Air Asia from Panglao to Manila, the management or ground staff are selling seats for favored passengers, thus off-loading other unsuspecting customers?”

Pete’s report ends with: “Requesting for a refund but no reply.”

Calling, calling Air Asia management.

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It’s an impossible task – stopping teenaged girls from getting pregnant.  First thing is that they are too young to be married lawfully.  But the itch to get hitched is extremely strong. 

My househelp’s family has multiple teen marriages. Starting with her, the mother herself got pregnant at age 17, her daughter at 16, and her granddaughter at 12, all three pregnancies occurring outside of marriage. Why was this so, I asked the mother. “It’s fate,” she told me. She also had three husbands, her daughter also three, and the granddaughter has just entered into a second relationship at age 14.

I’ve heard of many impregnations taking place in shacks where the families sleep in cramp spaces, resulting in incest and pregnancies.  So, is it poverty that is the cause of such ill relationships?

Not just poverty, reports the Commission on Population and Development, but rather, “a complex web of factors (that) is causing the increase in incidences of teenage pregnancy around the country, and thus cannot be attributed to a single factor alone.”

POPCOM issued the statement after news articles pointed to moral decadence as the reason for the rise in the numbers of girls who have begun to give birth, particularly those as young as 10 years old.

The lead population management agency of the country pointed out that “policy and program interventions which will address the issue require 

interagency and multisectoral collaboration.”

Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, POPCOM’s executive director, said that based on various studies, “the interplay of various factors –from personal to the community level – explains the incidence of teenage pregnancies.

“All these factors should be considered in formulating an integrated series of strategies and interventions.”

Perez said institutional partners such as the immediate family, schools and religious organizations could help address the interplay of numerous factors, including morals and values formation that influence the decision-making of adolescents.

According to Philippine civil registration data in 2017, more than 500 babies were born every day to adolescents 10 to 19 years old.

According to empirical evidences, exposure to sexually explicit content from the Internet, lack of access to reproductive health information and services, ineffective parental guidance, negative peer pressure, engagement in risky behaviors, as well as the changing attitudes of adolescents toward their sexuality are among the crucial factors attributable to teenage pregnancies.

The role of parents and adult guardians are important in developing positive values among adolescents.   

Perez likewise cited the urgency of a number of pending legislations on reproductive health to be enacted. “Given the complexity of the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy and its life-long implications, there is a need for a comprehensive policy solution.”

As such, POPCOM strongly supports the signing of bills authored by Senators Ana Theresia ‘Risa” Hontiveros and Juan Edgar “Sonny” Angara aimed at establishing a national policy on the prevention of adolescent pregnancy through comprehensive strategies.

While these bills are pending, Perez said there is a need to implement multisectoral strategies to drastically arrest the prevalence of teenage pregnancies.

For this purpose, POPCOM supports the call to declare this alarming state as a “national emergency” to foster more focused collaborations among stakeholders.

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