AFew days before Christmas, Super-typhoon Rai – known locally as Odette – ravaged the Philippines. The morning after the onslaught, as I was driving back to Iloilo City via San Jose, Antique, the ocean was still boiling. Houses were blown away, great trees were felled, and roads were impassible. The sight was terrifying.
Two weeks later, the number of people who died continues to rise. Vast numbers of buildings were destroyed – from houses to schools; food crops lost to flooding. At first, I did not know what to feel – anger, helplessness? Later, I understood what I wanted: climate Justice.
On average, 20 typhoons and storms are produced each yearEach year, the Philippines is a victim to these natural disasters. The culprit? Human activities generating greenhouse gases. The Philippines contributes Less than 0.4%The global north is responsible to 92% of the climate crisis. The Philippines is responsible for the problems caused by the north.
The Philippines will be represented in 2019 Made a strong statementCanada sent 1,500 tonnes illegally dumped rubbish back home to the rest of the world.
However, Cop26, heralded as the world’s last chance to avert disaster, was seen as a Many climate activists fail. Commitments weren’t made. The final agreement was reached. Watered-down stand against coalProfits were prioritized over people and the environment.
Despite the Philippines’ small part in the worsening climate crisis, The threat to the country’s security is immense. Rising sea levels due to global warming will cause flooding in parts of the country, resulting in thousands of climate refugees. Drought and flooding are likely to impact agricultural production and cause destruction of ecosystems. The intensity and risk of health emergencies like diarrhoea or dengue will increase.
To hide inefficiency and inaction, the Philippine government romanticizes the suffering of the affected people to conceal its inefficiency. “Filipinos are resilient” rhetoric.
My family and me lived in a slum just above a river at Iloilo City. Before a typhoon hit, we would leave our homes and seek shelter in a nearby church. Some of us would be thankful to see our houses standing after the storm passed. Others would be disappointed to see theirs destroyed by the wind or swept away by the waves. There was no resilience.
Families would have had to rebuild their homes from scratch and then be destroyed by the next typhoon. We lived in fear, and we carried the trauma of the calamities.
My cousin, a seafarer who had just graduated, was missing along with at most 10 other crew members on the 17th of December. M/V Strong Trinity tugboatAfter the typhoon ravaged Cebu, it was rescued by the owners. According to the owners of the boat, it had sought shelter but the wind swept away the tugboat as well as the passengers. The vessel has been lost to the coastguard.
Citizens quickly pointed out that the government was not prepared for the disaster. They claimed it hadn’t learned the lessons from Typhoon Haiyan, which hit in 2013. Strongest typhoons ever recorded to hit land – despite the fact that this time round there was a system to disseminate information about the storm’s arrival through text messages, social media and on news channels.
The country has also reduced the media’s role. The regional stations of the Philippines’ biggest broadcaster, ABS-CBN, which were on the frontline during previous natural disasters, have not been in service since 2020 due to what many see as a Their franchise renewal was denied by political motivation.
Telecommunications were disrupted. Filipinos waited in silence for news. People created Facebook groups that included updates on the hardest hit areas, information about missing people, and appeals to help. People in need were flooding Facebook’s news feeds with posts. People walked the streets holding signs indicating that they were hungry or thirsty. Many died from dehydration. Many people died from dehydration in flood-prone cities.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMC) has declared a state-of-emergency in several cities and towns where power and/or water supplies are still interrupted. More than 5.4 Million people were affected. More than half a billion people have been forced to flee their homes. Last week’s official figures put the death toll at 397 with 1,147 injuries and 83 missing. There were more than 535,000 houses destroyed and €350m (£290m) of damage caused to agriculture and infrastructure. People from communities in “danger zones” are unable to return.
Natural defenses have not been adequately protected despite years of such disasters. Dams have been constructed on ecologically significant rivers; dolomite mining is continuing, and so forth. Still being built are new coal-powered power plants . A few days later, the typhoon was over. Economic recovery was helped by lifting a four-year-old ban on open-pit mine miningThis is despite the fact that mining has a significant impact on the typhoons, rainfall and other natural disasters that are ravaging the economy.
The Philippines has elections in May, when Filipinos must choose a leader who has an unwavering will to tackle the climate crisis by demanding accountability from the global north and strengthening the country’s defences.
Poor countries and poor communities continue to be the victims of anthropogenic environmental injustice. The process of ending human activities is slow and ineffective. There is only disaster risk reduction management and mitigation. We will not be prepared for the future if the world doesn’t address the root cause.
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