‘Yolanda’ survivors demand reparations from oil firms

FILE: The shoreline of Barangay Magallanes in Tacloban City is left in ruins Sunday after the storm surge last week brought by super typhoon Yolanda. The strongest typhoon to hit the country this year leveled villages as it crossed several provinces in the Visayas
FILE: The shoreline of Barangay Magallanes in Tacloban City is left in ruins Sunday after the storm surge last week brought by super typhoon Yolanda. The strongest typhoon to hit the country this year leveled villages as it crossed several provinces in the Visayas

TACLOBAN CITY — Ten years since "Yolanda" killed about 7,000 people, survivors of the super typhoon have put oil companies on their crosshairs for reparations.

Poet Mark Anthony Simbajon, a resident here, said top polluters that contribute the most to global warming, causing worldwide climate disasters, should be held accountable.

Simbajon revealed he lost to "Yolanda" four relatives, five years' worth of poetry, and a collection of books in his home library.

"When I came home, all that was left was the wall of my apartment. Everything was gone," he said. Gone, too, he added, were the manuscripts of a book project that he was about to launch.

A week before "Yolanda" hit, Simbajon was doing missionary work in a Catholic church in Biliran province, organizing the youth to join his environmental advocacy.

"We didn't even receive an acknowledgment or an apology from these multinational (oil) companies that were the biggest contributors to global warming," he said.

Carbon majors

International environmentalist group Greenpeace, in a policy brief, said the biggest fossil fuel companies, also known as Carbon Majors, contributed 21.4 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions despite their knowledge of their products' adverse impacts on the environment and climate system.

"Carbon majors, directly by themselves or indirectly through others, singly or through concerted actions, engaged in willful obfuscation of climate science, which has prejudiced the right of the public to make informed decisions about their products, concealing that their products posed significant harm to the environment and the climate system," Greenpeace said.

Last year, the Commission on Human Rights issued its final report on its National Inquiry on Climate Change after petitions were filed by 14 nongovernment organizations and 18 individuals, including survivors of typhoon "Yolanda."

In its report, the CHR urged the Carbon Majors to acknowledge climate change and their contribution to it, denounce all climate change denialism propaganda,  and not stand in the way of speeding up the transition to renewable energy.

Last 6 November, or two days before the 10th anniversary of super typhoon "Yolanda," the municipality of Salcedo in Eastern Samar passed a resolution on climate accountability, the first of its kind in the country.

The resolution seeks "accountability for conduct directly contributing to climate change and its consequent impacts on the people of the Municipality of Salcedo" and directs the local government to "pursue any and all actions on behalf of the people of Salcedo for the losses and damages inflicted upon the communities due to the impacts of extreme weather events."

Resolute

It stated that "the Sanggunian, on behalf of the people of Salcedo, is resolute in its pursuit for accountability and reparations for the losses and damages brought about by the detrimental impacts of the climate crisis caused by fossil fuel companies responsible for the excessive and cumulative greenhouse gas emissions."

It also aims "to position the Municipality of Salcedo as a pro-active advocate for climate justice, demonstrating practices in alignment with the Paris Agreement."

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