The window of opportunity to act is about to close and the government should act decisively now to save our country from the worst possible effects of climate change.

This was the dire warning sounded by a new network of ecological advocates after days of heavy rains inundated vast swaths of Metro Manila and six provinces of Luzon, causing rivers to swell and bringing massive floods that forced hundreds of Filipinos to flee to evacuation centers, in scenes reminiscent of Tropical Storm Ondoy nine years ago.

Called URGENT, the group was convened early this year by Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Archdiocese of Manila, Fr. Pedro Montallana, Chairperson of Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc., and Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Asia and former Climate Change Commissioner.

Saño made climate change issues popular when he held a hunger strike and made a tearful, emotional appeal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that was being held as Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda wreaked havoc on southern Philippines in 2013.

Yolanda is one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, causing over 6, 000 deaths in the country. “We need to stop ourselves from a business-as-usual track right now and take drastic actions,” URGENT said yesterday in a statement.

“The heavy rains and floods brought by five consecutive typhoons Gardo, Henry, Inday, Josie and Karding this month should shake us and wake us up to the fact that climate change issue is real and urgent and we need to act now,” the group said.

“It is a must that we make radical lifestyle change as individuals and take drastic collective actions to address this issue,” Bp. Pabillo sounded off. He further echoed Pope Francis call to all people of goodwill in his encyclical letter, Laudato Si on Care for our Common Home, for ecological conversion and hearing both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.

The Philippines is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures and extreme rainfall.

Over the weekend, a red rainfall warning — the highest — was raised over Metro Manila and weather bureau PAGASA has said that downpours are expected to persist in the coming days due to the southwest monsoon.

Meanwhile, massive floods occurred in most of Bulacan and parts of Rizal, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Cavite and Zambales, as well as Metro Manila.

In recent years, tropical storms — Ondoy (Ketsana), Sendong (Washi), Pablo (Bopha) and Yolanda (Haiyan) — have left trails of death and destruction, shattered homes, and destroying communities. In Yolanda alone, non-government organizations have estimated the damage to property and to the country’s economy to be at least P650 billion ($13 billion).

The Philippines is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures and extreme rainfall.

This is due to its high exposure to natural hazards (cyclones, landslides, floods, droughts), dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources and vast coastlines where all major cities and the majority of the population reside.

The Philippines lies in the world’s most cyclone-prone region, averaging 19–20 cyclones each year, of which 7–9 make landfall. Due to climate change, sea levels in the Philippines are rising faster than the global average, increasing the hazard posed by storm surges and threatening permanent inundation of low-lying areas.

URGENT was echoing decades of warnings made by many international scientists. Over the past decades, scientists have warned that our increasing use of fossil fuels is adding heat-trapping gases to the Earth’s atmosphere, causing mountain glaciers and ice masses to melt, sea levels to rise, plant blooming to shift, as well as extreme weather events like weird weather patterns, stronger and more frequent storms and heat waves.

“In a ‘second notice’ made last November 2017, thousands of scientists, in fact, warned that if global temperatures increased by more than 1.5 ̊C, this could mean ‘game over’ for all of us, for all forms of life on Earth and for the planet itself.” said Fr. Pete Montallana.

URGENT also called on President Rodrigo Duterte to fulfill his vow to make the environment his top priority. Duterte made this promise during this year’s State of the Nation address.


URGENT is an initiative or mechanism meant to:

  • make people aware of the urgency of the current ecological crisis, in particular the climate change issue and
  • bring about ecological conversion and unified action among the Filipino people to care for creation.

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