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Protect our common home, unite towards ecological justice!
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Tuesday, 01 September 2015 13:30

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August 31, 2015

Protect our common home, unite towards ecological justice!

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”[1]

By the way current and dominant systems and attitudes stand, faith without actions might not be enough to save individuals, but the planet in its entirety as well.

Primarily driven by climate change, an ecological crisis is manifesting itself through extreme weather events, droughts, ocean acidification, and food and water crisis. Such was reflected in the unities made in the National Conference on the Integrity of Creation last July 29-31 in Manila.  This re-echoes Pope Francis’ call and Encyclical “Laudato Si” for a new, universal solidarity to address our urgent task to protect our common home.

In response to these pressing realizations, we, members of the Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement, representing the growing faith-based movements and networks within the country and across the globe in the fight for climate justice, enjoin people of all faiths and beliefs to share in the collective responsibility of addressing the ecological crisis.

Amid the numerous impacts primarily being experienced by the poor and most vulnerable people in different countries, there is not a more opportune time than now in acting and standing against a system that utilizes and promotes the exploitation of natural and environmental resources for it to survive. Allowing this system of exploitation to continue only disparages the integrity of all creation and widens the gap between the rich and the poor, instead of encouraging compassion and cooperation.

It is in this light that we acknowledge and declare climate change, including all acts of environmental destruction and exploitation that come along with and as a result of it, as a crosscutting issue that transcends religion, culture, science, and politics. As we ready ourselves for the battle for our common home before us, we call on everyone to prepare and put on a full armor that will enable us to stand and not lose hope in this decisive fight.

The belt of moral, historical and scientific truths

The ecological and climate crisis not only requires our faith-based responses but also a science-driven discourse as well. Instead of contradicting each other, empirical data has supported and complemented what our faith has taught us to do: become good and caring stewards of all creation or face dire consequences.

According to the 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report, more people will become poorer because of climate impacts, particularly its effects on agriculture. Armed with this knowledge, it is utterly irresponsible and immoral, to turn a blind eye to the cry of the poor which is now one with the cry of the earth.

The window for keeping global temperature to prevent catastrophic effects – below 1.5 degrees – is rapidly closing. If current trends and carbon emissions continue, the planet is destined for a 4°C or even 5°C rise in global average temperatures. The potential consequences of this temperature rise are unimaginable, considering the various impacts being experienced right now with a 0.8°C increase in temperature.

Upon knowing these truths, it is imperative that immediate actions and efforts be undertaken in order to generate an alternative future that is far from the grim picture being predicted and presented to us.

The breastplate of moral righteousness and social justice

The fight for climate justice is not merely an act of kindness or goodwill. It is our moral obligation to ensure that no rights are trampled upon and no duty is forgotten. We must take it upon ourselves the valiant task of securing and protecting people’s right to energy, to sufficient, healthy, and appropriate food, water, and livelihood, and to the security of possessions and homes from climate impacts.

This task enjoins that local, national, and international institutions to fulfill their roles and duties to the people. Transparency and accountability, especially in the area of finance, are crucial in transforming our market-oriented and profit-driven system into a people-centered and poor-friendly system that exhibits the concept of common good.

This task also means building climate-resilient and stronger communities to protect the most vulnerable members of our society who do not have the means and the ways to adapt to the changing climate by themselves. Strengthening adaptation measures are more than charity; they are the means by which we safeguard the lives and rights of all people regardless of their social and economic status. Their protection rests in our hands as a movement and as members of the same human race.

With private and transnational corporations continuously neglecting this notion of common good, it should nowe become our common responsibility to remind them that the earth and its resources are finite and therefore, more sustainable practices and means to meet all people’s needs must be employed.

The shield of faith

The enormity in scale of the fight for climate justice is less frightening when viewed through the lens of faith. No matter how ambitious or bold our intentions and actions may seem, we are still emboldened to speak out and act in the belief that in these collective voices and actions will our faith be made full.

Every victory, no matter how small or short-term, leads us closer and closer to the ultimate goal of transforming the system that is currently ushering us towards catastrophic climate change. It is in these little victories that we gather the hope and encouragement we need that will enable us to fight the good fight of faith and finish the race.

This global crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is an environmental and political crisis. As an inter-faith movement, it is only fair and just that we humbly recognize and acknowledge the faults and failures that we have committed to the environment as well. It is by beginning with genuine repentance and desire for change will we be able to achieve authentic ecological conversion that will be by all and for all, and produce the fruit of love for the environment and our fellow creations.

Protect our common home, unite towards ecological justice!

Armed with these necessary tools, the Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement boldly urges relevant institutions of all creeds and all countries to unite towards a renewed appreciation of our common role as stewards of the environment and keepers of our neighbors.

We enjoin the people of developed countries of the North to heed the call of the brothers and sisters in the developing South: to base their commitment to cut emissions and fund climate justice efforts on a centralized, historically-responsible assessment of their vast contributions to the ecological crisis.

We enjoin the Philippine government to side and stand in solidarity with the poor, vulnerable communities it claims to represent. It must not use the faith and resilience of character Filipinos have to justify its shortcomings in responding to their need for food, land, water and livelihood, as well as just adaptation measures.

The Philippine government must also be the leader in holding developed countries accountable for their environmental faults, not settling for loans and rhetoric but just reparations for the damage the country continually sustains.

Finally, we demand all governments of the world, as well as international funding institutions to stop investing on fossil fuels and begin the transition to a more sustainable, more ecologically-responsible and socially just renewable energy system.

The path to deliverance always begins with the admission of faults, justice and a renewed paradigm. This is also true in the context of ecological justice. Whether in small acts in our community or in the systemic ways of life we utilize as nations and as a species: our beliefs, our faith must reflect in our actions. Through this, we preserve not only our own integrity, but the integrity of the rest of creation.

Protect our common home!
Preserve the integrity of creation!
Unite towards ecological justice now!

Referrence:
Fr. Dexter Toledo
ECOJIM Chairperson
09173196906

[1] James 2:14 New International Version.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 September 2015 13:34
 
Urgent Appeal: Recent demolition and pending relocation of residents of Radial Road 10 North Bay Boulevard, Navotas City
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Tuesday, 07 July 2015 20:28
URGENT APPEAL

July 7, 2015

(PHILIPPINES) Recent demolition and pending relocation of residents of Radial Road 10 North Bay Boulevard, Navotas City

ISSUES: The right to an adequate standard of living; right to adequate housing, right to water

URGENT APPEAL   URGENT APPEAL   URGENT APPEAL

Dear friends,

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) writes to inform you about the recent demolition and pending relocation of residents of Radial Road 10 (R10) North Bay Boulevard, Navotas City.

CASE DETAILS:

On June 30, 2015 at around 9:00 in the morning, residents of R10 North Bay Boulevard, Navotas City were taken by surprise as teams from the National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Navotas Local Government and the hired demolition group started destroying their houses.

According to Anecita Sison, Secretary of the Purok R10 North Bay Boulevard North Neighborhood Association, Inc. and one of the residents there, a dialogue was set up between NHA, DPWH and the representative residents of R10 last June 1, 2015 regarding the impending demolition and the residents’ request for more time to relocate.  The dialogue ended with an agreement to continue the talks and with no word on the finality of the demolition schedule.

Some of the residents were still sleeping peacefully and others were at work when the demolition team started destroying the houses. Some residents were hurt as they panicked to gather their belongings and hurry out of the way of falling debris. Allegedly, some members of the demolition team stole properties of some of the residents. After the demolition, items like shoes and small things were unaccounted for. One member of the demolition team even allegedly snatched a watch from a resident’s wrist and did not return it.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 July 2015 20:30
 
End the list! Sign and Ratify the Convention Against Disappearances Immediately!-CAED
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:15
CAED Statement on the International Week of the Disappeared

"End the list! Sign and Ratify the Convention Against Disappearances Immediately!"

11265477_10153314294307673_8178387056375191908_oJonas Burgos, Rudy Romano, Hermon Lagman, Joseph Belar, Jovencio Lagare, Romualdo Orcullo, Diosdado Oliver, Artemio Ayala, Arnold Dangkiasan, Edgardo Estojero, Renato Topacio, Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño, Leo Velasco, Manuel Manaog, the list of the disappeared goes on with no end in sight. They may have been silenced, but their friends and families continue to speak up. And now, their friends and families demand that government end the list immediately.

In observance of the International Week of the Disappeared, the Coalition Against Enforced Disappearance (CAED) stands in solidarity with other organizations around the world in pushing for the universal ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPAPED). CAED calls on the Philippine Government to sign and ratify the Convention immediately!

“In a country plagued by impunity and a weak justice system, it is imperative that we ratify the Convention as it will complement our domestic law,” said Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso, CAED Convenor and Secretary-General of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD). The Philippines is the first country in Asia that enacted an anti-enforced disappearance law (RA 10353), and yet no perpetrator has been convicted under such law.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:26
 
Urgent Appeal: Killing of a Human Rights Defender
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Monday, 25 May 2015 11:53

URGENT APPEAL

May 21, 2015

(PHILIPPINES) Killing of a Human Rights Defender

Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the killing of a former priest who is a human rights defender.

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP, kindly send email to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call +632 4378054.

___________________

Title:                                        Labastilla EJK

Case:                                       Extra-Judicial Killing

Victim:                                    Teresito Mula Labastilla, 46 years old

Date of Incident:                    February 12, 2015

Place of Incident:                    Dionisio Micayabas Street, North Poblacion, Maramag, Bukidnon

Perpetrators:                            Unidentified motorcycle-riding men

Motive:                                    Land-related; connected to victim’s advocacy in helping the CARP beneficiaries

____________________

Account of the incident:

A former priest and human rights defender of indigenous people and farmers was killed by unknown assailants on a motorcycle at Dionisio Micayabas Street, North Poblacion, Maramag, Bukidnon last February 12, 2015, around 7:45 in the morning.

Teresito Mula Labastilla, also known as Fr. Sito, 46 years old, dropped his son at Maramag Central School on the morning of the day of the incident. While Labastilla was about to leave the school premise, he was peppered with bullets by the two motorcycle-riding men. His son Tristan Matthew, who just got down from the vehicle, heard a series of gun shots and heard his father calling him. He saw their Isuzu Samurai vehicle accelerate toward the concrete wall, skidded and overturned with his father still inside.

Shocked onlookers ran towards the overturned vehicle and helped Labastilla get out. The men aboard the motorcycle sped off. The victim was bloodied and unconscious. The onlookers helped lay him down on the concrete road while they waited for a vehicle to bring Labastilla to the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in Maramag. He was declared dead on arrival. He sustained three gunshot wounds in his neck, face and chest. The attending physician said that all the bullets went through his body. The police investigated the crime scene and recovered four empty cartridges of a .45 caliber gun.

Arline Amigo, Labastilla’s live-in partner, learned about what happened when someone went to their house in Barangay Base Camp, Maramag to fetch her and accompany her to the hospital. But at that time, she thought that Labastilla was only injured. When she arrived at the hospital, she was directed to the morgue. Amigo was distressed and disoriented. She and Labastilla were soon to be married.

Witnesses recounted to her that the two assailants rode a white or blue XRM motorcycle that had no plate number. Both men were wearing masks. The victim was about to leave the area after he brought his son to school when the back rider of the motorcycle shot the back tire of Labastilla’s vehicle. The victim was then shot three times. Tristan Matthew was almost hit by the motorcycle. He told his mother that he already noticed the motorcycle-riding men since December 2014. The suspects usually stood by the front of his school and he saw them every time his father dropped him off at school.

Labastilla was a well-known environmental activist in the province. He was a priest for 14 years and was assigned in Malaybalay City, Lantapan, and San Fernando, Bukidnon diocese. He left the priesthood in 2000 and had his own family.

He ran for mayor in Lantapan, Bukidnon in 2010, but lost. The current mayor filed a case of Oral Defamation against Labastilla. A day before he was killed, he was convicted and had the penalty of imprisonment for ten days and was ordered to pay ten thousand pesos (P10,000). During his campaign, Labastilla said that he desired for honest and sincere services to be given to the people of the municipality. His main advocacy was for the issues of land and water to be resolved for the farmers and indigenous people in his area.

He is also the spiritual adviser and consultant of the local organization called Bukidnon Agrarian Reform and Agri-Business Multipurpose Association (BARAMA). The organization was established last February 3, 2008. It promotes organic farming among the IPs and farmers in the province.

Agrarian reform beneficiaries in Barangay Base Camp, Maramag were having difficulties in occupying the awarded 34 hectares of land after a former owner sent private armies to the area and harassed them. The beneficiaries solicited advice from Labastilla and he accommodated them. He used his vehicle and drove for the farmers when they needed to make follow ups regarding their case. Amigo and the other people close to Labastilla think that this might be the reason why he was killed.

Maramag Police Chief Jose Sevillero recently visited Amigo and showed her a cartographic sketch of one of the suspects. She said that she hopes that the case will be resolved soon and that justice will be served.

Amigo now fears for her life and her children’s. They have noticed motorcycle-riding men going around their residence.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 May 2015 11:57
 
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