Yolanda re­called anew in new CHR in­quiry

Manila Bulletin - - Editorial -

IT has been five years since su­per-typhoon Yolanda (in­ter­na­tional name: Haiyan) dev­as­tated Ta­cloban City and other com­mu­ni­ties in Leyte and Sa­mar on Novem­ber 8, 2013, but it con­tin­ues to draw at­ten­tion to this day.

One rea­son is that gov­ern­ment ef­forts to help and re­ha­bil­i­tate its vic­tims fell short of ex­pec­ta­tions. Many of the homes that were built for them were never oc­cu­pied be­cause they were so poorly built. Many of those who lost their houses chose to set up new homes else­where in the coun­try.

Three months ago, when cracks ap­peared in the Otis Bridge in Paco, Manila, and it had to be closed for re­pairs, a fam­ily liv­ing un­der the bridge was found to have orig­i­nally come from Eastern Sa­mar, which had been forced to move else­where when its home was de­stroyed by a land­slide caused by the heavy rains of Yolanda.

Yolanda is again in the news with the new in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights on a pe­ti­tion to look into whether 47 coal, oil, and ce­ment com­pa­nies around the world are en­dan­ger­ing the lives and liveli­hoods of peo­ple by con­tribut­ing to the dev­as­tat­ing im­pacts of cli­mate change through car­bon pol­lu­tion from their prod­ucts and busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties.

The pe­ti­tion had been filed in 2015 by 14 or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing Green­peace South­east Asia, the Philip­pine Ru­ral Re­con­struc­tion Move­ment, church lead­ers, hu­man rights and en­vi­ron­ment ad­vo­cates, along with sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als. A hear­ing was held this week at the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics af­ter re­cent hear­ings in Manila and New York City, where the 47 in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies named in the pe­ti­tion have of­fices.

The com­pa­nies have so far re­fused to take part in the in­quiry, which is said to be part of a world­wide move­ment to ap­ply pres­sure on gov­ern­ments and on fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies to de­mand and carry out more am­bi­tious ac­tion on cli­mate change. The CHR has no ju­di­cial pow­ers but the fact that the CHR ac­cepted the case is “novel and unique” as no other case has ever reached the point it has now reached.

“The whole world is watch­ing,” the le­gal coun­sel of the pe­ti­tion­ers Zelda So­ri­ano said.“We want them (the com­pa­nies) to present and con­vince the pe­ti­tion­ers that their in­vest­ment plans policies, mea­sures, and projects as com­pa­nies will lead to a just tran­si­tion to cleaner re­new­able en­ergy,” she said.

Mean­while, a new UN re­port said the ozone layer, which pro­tects the earth from space ul­tra­vi­o­let rays that cause skin can­cer and crop dam­age, is be­gin­ning to heal. The ozone layer in the north should be re­paired by 2030 and in the south by 2060, the re­port said. Sci­en­tists had raised the alarm about the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing ozone layer in the 1970s and coun­tries around the world in 1987 agreed to phase out chem­i­cals from spray cans which had been de­stroy­ing the ozone layer.

This is the good news in the world­wide ef­fort for a cleaner, greener earth. The Philip­pine CHR ini­tia­tive may one day lead to a sim­i­lar world ef­fort that will help stop the car­bon pol­lu­tion that is caus­ing cli­mate change with its dev­as­tat­ing heat waves, its heavy rains, and its pow­er­ful ty­phoons, like su­per-typhoon Yolanda which hit the Philip­pines five years ago.

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