QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Members of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) commemorated the 40th day of the devastation wrought by typhoon Sendong (International codename: Washi) to various areas in the Mindanao and Visayas.

PMCJ massed up in front of the main office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) offering candles and prayers for the victims of one of the worst calamities that struck the country. It is a Filipino Catholic tradition believing that deceased people traverse the natural and supernatural worlds for 40 days before going to eternal life.

Moreover, students from the University of the Philippines (UP) Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), De La Salle University (DLSU) and Eulogio Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) also conducted a candle lighting ceremony to commemorate the 40th day of Sendong.

The climate justice activists are holding the environment department accountable for allowing the proliferation of mining and logging activities in already vulnerable areas. They demand concrete actions from the executive department to stop the continued degradation of the environment in the country.

Over a thousand people were killed when Sendong ravaged portions of northern Mindanao last December 17, affecting more than 1.1 million Filipinos, with more than 600 injured and almost two hundred missing, in 815 villages in 57 towns and eight cities in 13 provinces. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Sendong’s damage to property was estimated at P1,633,283,487, including P1,360,335,647 in infrastructure and P272,974,840 in agriculture.

“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and its local implementing agencies are accountable for allowing extraction of natural resources,” said PMCJ co-convenor Jaybee Garganera.

Deforestation is very rampant making the Philippines one of the highest rates of deforestations in the world according to World Resource Institute (WRI). “This proves that there is insufficient management of our forest and its preservation that aggravated the impacts of typhoon Sendong,” Garganera added.

PMCJ demands that President Aquino release the 'comprehensive report' he ordered on  the efforts of appropriate government agencies such as PAGASA and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) aside from the senate inquiry sought by Senator Pimentel III that will investigate the factors that led to the tragedy in Mindanao and Visayas.

“We believe that this report will reveal the systemic problems of the different agencies involved in the management of our natural resources and this will unearth the problems that occured during the typhoon Sendong tragedy,” said Garganera.

Meanwhile, PMCJ calls on the housing task force to ensure the just transition of displaced individuals to a safer area and provide full financial support for the reconstruction of their houses. Considering that leading government agencies invloved in land use planning did not even bother to reconfigure the urbanization of Iligan and Cagayan De Oro before Sendong, the government is partly to blame for the destruction in Mindanao.

“Therefore, the government must provide full financial compensation or 'reparation' for the relocation and social services needed by the affected community,” said Virgie Pinlac, also co-convenor of PMCJ. -30-

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