Yolanda recalled anew  in  new CHR inquiry

Published November 10, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

E CARTOON NOV 10, 2018It 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 th 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.