The Philippines Tightens Bond to the Growing Number of Countries

Pushing for the Recognition of the Rights of Nature

“Typhoons Paeng and Karding are cries of warning by mother earth. The devastation inflicted to our
mountains, forests, and seas is too much for these ecosystems to bear. Mother nature is losing its control over the system it efficiently manages and balances since its beginning, to protect us from greater harm and catastrophe,” Yolanda Esguerra Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) National Coordinator said, highlighting the devastation brought about by the series of typhoons that visited the country.

We need to heed the cry of mother earth and give it greater protection than what the current system is
providing to it now if we want to thrive. This is also a key concern of the Global Alliance of the Rights of

Esguerra and Candy L. Hidalgo, PMPI Deputy Coordinator, participated in the recently concluded Global Alliance on the Rights of Nature Forum and Assembly held in Siena, Italy last October 15-18, 2022. The event brought together various individuals — lawyers, educators, development workers, climate activists, and youth — who are fighting for the protection of nature and recognizing its inherent rights. It showcased Rights of Nature cases from all over the world and celebrated the wins and bravery of communities speaking for nature. The Philippine representatives were invited to present the history and the developments of the rights of nature campaign in the country. The Philippine presentation was met with much appreciation and for many served as an inspiration given the short period since it started the campaign.

“What is helpful and unique about the Right of Nature (RoN) campaign in the Philippines is the strong
support of the Catholic church. Two pastoral letters focused on the environment have been released by
our bishops embracing the perspective and urging support for the passage of the RoN bill filed in Congress,” said Esguerra, during her report to the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN) Forum on Global Update on the RoN Movement.

“We hear and understand the lingering concern of our indigenous people’s elders in GARN with the
institutional church, because of the long history of subjugation of their people’s culture during the long colonization period that started during the 15th century. But we are happy that the GARN has considered engaging a broader perspective of the group including the church to push the movement,” added

During the General Assembly, the GARN constitution was approved, the 3-year plan and 10-year
direction of the movement was crafted and a common statement, the “Seed of Siena Declaration” was agreed upon.

Another major output was the establishment of the Asia and the Pacific Hub where the Philippines,
India, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia are building alliances to strengthen the RoN campaign in the region.

The Rights of Nature movement in the Philippines is pushing for systems change – from a legal system
that treats nature only as an object and property to one that recognizes the legal rights of nature, from a
highly extractive economics to an eco-centric circular economy. From overly human-centric politics to the inclusion of the voices of nature in its governance. From a culture that is consumerist and materialist
to a more sustainable and sufficient lifestyle.

We ask our lawmakers to pass the Rights of Nature Bill. For the President to make the Rights of Nature and climate change a priority in the egislative and executive agenda. We ask the government to declare a climate emergency now. PMPI stresses the crucial role of leaders to take the lead in protecting nature, while the people need to do their share.

We enjoin all private institutions to recognize that this is a climate emergency and to act for mother earth by promoting eco-friendly institutional policies and behavior. We call on all individuals to examine one’s lifestyles – minimize their individual and familial carbon footprints. There is still time if we can all take action.

For more information contact:
Yolanda R. Esguerra
PMPI National Coordinator

Candy L. Hidalgo
PMPI Deputy Coordinator