There are many urgent issues in our country these days. The high inflation is urgent. Prices of food and transportation are going beyond the reach of millions. Joblessness is urgent. While organized labor groups rightly ask for increase of their wages, millions of people are still without work or are only casual workers with no security of tenure. The resumption of the peace process between the government and the CPP-NDF-NPA is urgent, with many poor farmers and lumads killed, tagged by one or the other as enemies or aiding their enemies. The call to end the unjust war on drugs is urgent, with the increasing killings with impunity happening in poor communities while those responsible for the coming in of tons of shabu are free and enjoying the trust of the government. So many things need to be urgently addressed.
But we should not forget one really urgent matter that fly below the radar screens of the media and the attention of the people—the continued destruction of our environment and the resulting climate change. In this regard the attitude of most is business as usual. But precisely this business as usual is the cause of climate change. Scientists are frantically telling us that we will hit the 1.5 degrees of global warming already in 2030—well within our lifetime—with dire consequences for all of us. No one is immune from the effects of global warming. And we have nowhere else to go. We have just one earth!
And in the matter of environmental care, each of us can do something! Maybe some us can still claim that I cannot do anything about the peace process with the NPA, nor with the rise of the prices of goods, nor with the unjust war on drugs. We absolutely cannot offer the same excuse with global warming because we contribute to it by our buying habits, by the food that we eat, by the way we dispose of our wastes, by our use of water and electricity, by the choice of our mode of transportation. It should not be business as usual! It is good to honestly ask ourselves: what change in my lifestyle have I consciously adopted to avert global warming and as a sign of my care for Mother Earth? In this matter, each of us is called to be involved because it surely affects each one of us. The news of the floods in Italy, the fires in California, the strong typhoon that hit Hong Kong, the draught in Australia, should wake us up. It should not be business as usual!
We also need to raise our voices against policies and projects that destroy the environment. The BUILD, BUILD, BUILD program of the present administration needs to be scrutinized especially from the lens of the care for the environment. One is urgently to be opposed—the Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon province which President Duterte is set to sign with the Chinese President Xi when he comes to visit the country in a few days. This dam is presented as needed for the water supply of Metro Manila. But it is not true that this is the only, nor the best solution, for the water problem of the metropolis. About a half of the water is lost because of the leaks. The present Angat dam can be dredged with lower cost. The big Laguna lake can be rehabilitated and its water treated, again at lesser cost, and with added benefit of averting the constant flooding in the areas around the lake, including Metro Manila.
On the other hand, with the Kaliwa Dam project, hundreds of hectares of our prime forests in Quezon will be submerged in water. Thousands of our Dumagat indigenous peoples will lose their ancestral land, hundreds of thousands of farmers in Quezon province will be affected and put in danger, since the area of the dam is on the fault lines of earthquakes. While the earth is reeling from global warming, here we are, still doing business as usual projects when international studies have shown that big dams are not advisable for they are not reliable. We need to raise our voices in protest! This is a VERY VERY URGENT matter!!!
November 15, 2018