TACLOBAN CITY-The town of Salcedo in Eastern Samar became the first local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines that had passed a municipal resolution on climate accountability.
The resolution, which is fully supported by Mayor Ma. Rochelle Mergal, was sponsored by Councilor Joselito Esquierdo, and co-sponsored by all members of the committee on environment.
It was approved on November 6, 2023, two days before the 10th anniversary of Super Typhoon ‘Yolanda’, according to the climate advocacy group Greenpeace.
“Salcedo and our neighboring municipalities are coastal communities—we bear the brunt of extreme weather here. Repeated climate change impacts make it hard for our people to recover each time, and severely limits our capacity to address this crisis,” Mayor Mergal said.
“This resolution means the municipality of Salcedo stands with its people in demanding that climate polluters be held accountable for their role in worsening climate change—and we urge our fellow vulnerable communities, whether in Eastern Samar or in the rest of the Philippines, to join us in this call,” she added.
Felisa Castro, president of Kusog han Kababayen-an han Salcedo Federation (Kakakasa), also lauded the passage of the said resolution.
“If the weather wasn’t constantly changing, then our families wouldn’t be struggling. Even when our livelihood is starting to thrive, another storm comes our way and we’re back to recovery again. Our demand here is for polluters—the big oil and gas companies—to pay their destructive emissions, and for the loss and damage here in Salcedo,” she said.
“What happened today in Salcedo is a historic moment—communities will no longer take the climate crisis sitting down, and will no longer bear the burden of climate destruction while fossil fuel polluters continue to evade justice,” added Jefferson Chua, Greenpeace campaigner.
Chua also hoped that the initiative of LGU-Salcedo “can be the spark we need to bridge the gap of empathy felt by people who may not be aware of the true scope of impacts caused by climate change, for the communities that are only seeking what they deserve: to make polluters pay.”
According to the advocacy group, the resolution seeks “accountability for conduct directly contributing to climate change and its consequent impacts on the people of the municipality of Salcedo.”
It also 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.”
The announcement of the resolution coincided with a community forum organized by Greenpeace to present the policy brief entitled “Enforcing accountability: holding fossil fuel companies liable for the climate crisis—unveiling loss and damage of extreme weather events, the Salcedo, Eastern Samar perspective.”
Salcedo, a fifth-class town located along the eastern seaboard of Eastern Samar and composed of 41 barangays, with 26 coastal barangays and two island barangays, was among areas that was hit by Yolanda in 2013.
(RONALD O. REYES/ROEL T. AMAZONA)