Philippine faith communities declare climate emergency
MANILA – Leaders of various religions and faith communities in the Philippines assembled for the first time in a landmark dialogue and declaration of climate emergency with their unified stand and action against climate climate crisis and environmentally destructive human activity.
Living Laudato Si’ Philippines, a lay-initiated climate movement based on Pope Francis’ seminal encyclical of the same name, spearheaded the first Philippine Interfaith Summit on Climate Emergency on November 23, in collaboration with the Climate Change Commission (CCC) of the Republic of the Philippines and UniHarmorny Partners Manila. Through the summit, it aims to raise awareness on the pressing realities of climate change through the eyes of local faith communities and provide a platform for faith, religious and indigenous communities in the Philippines to share and learn how different beliefs and traditions look at the morality and spirituality of caring for the planet—our common home.
The summit was participated in by representatives from Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Muslims, Hinduism, Philippine Independent Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, Imam Council of the Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, United Religions Initiative (International), Focolare Movement, ACT Alliance, and from various Philippine indigenous peoples, religious communities and faith-based organizations.
CCC Secretary Emmanuel de M. Guzman in his keynote message highlighted the vital role of religious communities in accelerating local climate action.
“As we champion the interests of the most climate vulnerable communities, we must fall back on the common values and ethical standards that our religions teach us and forge a collective understanding, position and aspiration as a nation on the prevailing climate emergency. In this undertaking, faith leaders play a critical role in shaping the mitigation, adaptation, and resilience agenda of any nation as well as the global community,” shared de Guzman.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who joined in the dialogue as a reactor, appealed that the enactment of the Rights of Nature Bill must be supported, while Reverend Fletcher Harper, executive director of the global interfaith environmental movement Greenfaith, discussed divestment from dirty industries and investing in sustainability as moral and spiritual imperative in the face of climate emergency.
Jessica Dator-Bercilla from Christian Aid, a member of the Global Reference Group on Climate Justice of ACT Alliance, moderated a roundtable discussion which served as platform for faith leaders to express their respective beliefs, traditions and future plans to address the present conditions of the country with regard to climate change.
The event culminated in a ceremonial signing of the Philippine Interfaith Declaration on Climate Emergency. Through the document, the faith leaders aim to influence decision makers from both private and public sector to produce more eco-centric and people-centric outcomes for the nation and to inspire Filipinos toward unified moral action on environmental issues.
“The declaration gives voice to the situation of the Filipino people and we hope stakeholders realize they cannot but respond when presented with it. The best we can do is to act in solidarity with the vulnerable communities, and to act now,” says Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines.
Galicha shared that, “Living Laudato Si’ Philippines joins the 2020 observance of the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples of the Catholic Church in the Philippines through various efforts in caring for our common home and acting on the climate crisis,”
Joining about 150 summit participants from different faith traditions and communities as delegates who delivered their statements and declaration are the following:
- Ms. Eva Marie Famador (Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches)
- Rev. Irma Balaba (National Council of Churches in the Philippines)
- Elder Raul S. Villanueva (The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints)
- Rev. Fr. Pete Montallana (Roman Catholic Church, URGENT Initiative)
- Dr. Shakuntala Vaswani (Hinduism, The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc.)
- Rev. Fr. Gregory Latoja (Eastern Orthodox Church)
- Fr. Dionito M. Cabillas (Philippine Independent Church)
- Dr. Potre Diampuan (Muslim, United Religions Initiative)
- Asela and Ted Aragao (Roman Catholic Church, Focolare Movement)
- 10.Mr. Dante Cruz dela Rosa (Indigenous Peoples, Dumagat Agta)
The panel of reactors who shared their reflections on the proceedings include Mr. Reynaldo Antonio Laguda of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Ms. Pats Oliva of Health Care Without Harm, former Senator Heherson Alvarez, Senator Risa Hontiveros and Climate Change Commissioner Emmanuel M. de Guzman.
(Respective statements and position papers of delegates and panel of reactors will be shared in this posit in next few days.)
The summit, organized by Living Laudato Si’ Philippines in collaboration with the Climate Change Commission and UniHarmony Partners Manila, is part of the local commemoration of the 12th Annual Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week. Plenary sessions tackled topics such as the vital role of religious communities in divestment and investment for sustainability in the face of climate emergency.
Living Laudato Si’ Philippines is member of the the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) Eco-Convergence, Power for People Coalition, Green Convergence for Safe Food Healthy Environment, and Sustainable Economy and the Asia Climate Change Consortium.