June 17, 2016
The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, together with more than 30 faith-based groups and civil society organizations have asked incoming administration to adopt its development and ecological agenda prioritizing the pressing needs of the poor and the marginalized as articulated in the encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si.
The group commits to lobby the government to act on at least six priority issues/sectors namely: the farmers, fisherfolks and rural poor, indigenous peoples, workers, climate justice, mining and extractives, and disaster risk reduction.
“Change is desirable as long as it brings common good, justice and peace to humanity. Unfortunately, there is one change that is inevitable and threatening our people and our planet. We call it climate change,” NASSA/caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez said in a statement.
The group particularly asked the incoming administration to protect the rights of small farmers and fishermen by giving them ownership over their lands and waters and providing access and subsidies that will support local production and fair trade. They also called for the promotion of sustainable and organic farming and fishing, and implementation of genuine agrarian reform.
They also asked the new administration to respect the rights of indigenous peoples by full implementation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, efficient delivery of basic social services, protection from development aggression, human rights violation and militarization, and recognition of their role in the peace process.
To protect workers’ rights, they asked the government to regularize contractual employees, junk laws which legalize contractualization, and enact the National Minimum Wage in the amount of P750 for private sector employees and P16,000 for government employees.
For its ecological agenda, the groups asked for the promotion of climate justice by cancelling all plans, permits and construction of coal-fired power plants. They also called for a swift phase out of all existing coal-fired plants and a transition program for alternative jobs and livelihoods for all workers and communities that will be economically displaced.
On the issue of mining, the groups called for the immediate passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill, the suspension or cancellation of mining contracts for violations of laws and human rights, and the completion of the “No-Go zones” map of the whole country.
There was also a proposal to strengthen disaster risk reduction and provide additional funding support to local government units especially in the fourth to sixth class municipalities.
The statement was made during the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, which highlighted the adverse impacts of climate change on the poor and most vulnerable, and the scale of the climate crisis.
“Change is coming, as the President-elect Rodrigo Duterte professes. We also want change to happen that is based on justice and human dignity,” Gariguez added.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
It is currently on the third year of implementing the Catholic Church’s largest rehabilitation program for Typhoon Yolanda survivors called #REACHPhilippines in nine provinces worst-hit by the typhoon.
Aside from this, it also implements a climate change adaptation and sustainable agriculture program called FARM-FIRST, and various programs advocating land rights, agrarian reform, good governance and sustainable agriculture.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines together with faith-based groups and civil society organizations lays out its development and ecological agenda to the incoming administration. (From L to R: Tony Abuso of the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous People, Soc Barzuela of PAKISAMA, NASSA/Caritas Philippines National Director Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Ian Rivera of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and Jaybee Garganera of Alyansa Tigil Mina)
April Ann Abello-Bulanadi