TACLOBAN CITY—The iconic Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior
recently docked at this city’s port as part of its global campaign for climate justice.
“Having the Rainbow Warrior
in Tacloban and indeed in the Philippines is very significant to us because this is the first time in the long and proud history of the environmental campaigning of the ship, that this is sailing in the name of climate justice and liability,” said Amalie Obusan, country director of Greenpeace Asia – Philippines.
Tacloban, known as “ground zero” of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” where over 7,000 people died last Nov. 8, 2013, has been at the center of group’s campaign on climate change awareness and to bring those responsible into justice.
“We need to do something, it’s a duty to act. I am inspired to hear your stories although much of it is quite painful but incredibly inspiring…It’s time to act, we have to make it sure the most responsible for climate change are accounted for,” Capt. Hettie Geenen, the ship Captain of Rainbow Warrior, told reporters during the welcome ceremony.
According to Desiree Llanos Dee, climate justice campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines, “the ship tour will serve as a global platform to help build support and solidarity with people most affected by the actions taken by greedy corporations that are historically largely responsible for carbon emissions and yet continue to line their pockets at the expense of people and the environment.”
Dee added that Rainbow Warrior’s visit “is a global journey of justice where we will continue to remind people of their own power and the power of their stories.”
“After the Rainbow Warrior leaves Philippine shores, the eyes of the world should be on the Inquiry Room at the Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines on March 27 to 28, as it has the potential to shift global understanding of corporate responsibility for climate change,” she added.
“The rights of future generations and of communities made vulnerable by climate change - those least responsible but bearing the brunt of the consequences, including the poor, elderly, Indigenous Peoples, women, LGBTQIA+, children, persons with disabilities, migrants - must be at the center of concern, rather than the bottom lines of fossil fuel companies.”
Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines, along with other Yolanda survivors and other civil society groups, is one of the petitioners in the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines Inquiry into the Responsibility of the Carbon Majors for Human Rights Violations or Threats of Violations Resulting from the Impacts of Climate Change.
The national inquiry was triggered by a petition filed at the Commission in 2015 by representatives of communities across the country, Greenpeace said.
Among the 47 companies being investigated include Shell, BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ENI, ExxonMobil, Glencore, OMV, Repsol, Sasol, and Suncor, it said.
The CHR will conclude its inquiry by the end of this year and issue its recommendations in early 2019.
Meanwhile, Joanna Sustento, a Yolanda survivor who now works on climate justice and liability with Greenpeace, said that one of the highlights of the ship’s visit in the city is the launching of the 9th Largabista film festival and the “LIVErary”, a human library where storytellers and experts will share their knowledge and experiences on themes of loss and hope, pain and perspectives, as well as justice and injustice in the context of climate change.
“We Waray people do not want others to have to experience devastating storms like Yolanda, so we decided to share our stories of how hope can spring from tragedy,” she said.
“The LIVErary will be collecting and connecting peoples’ stories, as well as surfacing stories yet untold, of the impacts of the climate crisis on our rights as human beings. Remembering and sharing are key elements of justice and healing. They contribute to social memory, build on and strengthen the social and cultural fabric, and raise questions of accountability and responsibility, of what is fair and right, and what is unjust.”
“The Rainbow Warrior, wherever it goes, is a symbol of a clean, green, and all-natural environment. It’s very symbolic that it is here in Tacloban city, Leyte, as a stark reminder that we are one of the worst-hit victims of climate change,” said 35-year-old Largabista film festival organizer and Yolanda survivor Aaron Almadro.
Almadro, who lost both parents to Yolanda said that the Rainbow Warrior “is an inspiring image of hope, tenacity, and the strong will of humanity, a metaphor for people, a boat that goes against the tide of change but always follows through the winds of nature.”