December 24, 2020

Our watch is not yet over

While many are now counting the days to finally conclude this year fraught with hardship, we remain vigilant on the hour.

Our watch is not yet over.

It has been a truly trying year that tested our vigilance as environmental defenders. We drummed up the hard lessons of a devastating pandemic borne from the disruption of nature.

We challenged the twisted logic of pursuing destructive large-scale mines and infrastructure to supposedly recover from the global health crisis’ economic repercussions.

We rose above the militaristic lockdowns and reclaimed democratic spaces. More than 25,000 environment and climate activists across the world, including no less than Greta Thunberg herself, stood with us against the tyrannical Anti-Terrorism Law.

With safety protocols and security plans in place, we pushed through with our global climate strike, the first in the era of COVID.

Months later, typhoons Rolly through Ulysses brought down devastating floods that affected millions of Filipinos—a deadly cautionary tale that forced legislators to finally recognize what we have been striking for: that we are in a climate emergency and that we need urgent action now.

By relentlessly speaking truth to power, we have been met with one reprisal after another from this hateful regime of President Rodrigo Duterte. Hundreds of defenders suffered illegal arrests, trumped-up charges, militarization, and murder.

We ourselves have been criminalized throughout the year with endless red-tagging attacks. Just this December 23, one of our own was singled out in a red-tagging Facebook post by an asset of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict.

We count the days to 2020’s conclusion with bated breath. We fear that these threats can become a holiday crackdown any time now.

Our watch is not yet over.

And so we have a simple Christmas wish to everyone who has been with us through the thick and thin of 2020: that while we enjoy the well-deserved rest and recreation of the season, and reflect on the tremendous challenges we faced this year, that we all keep a weather eye at what lurks in the darkness still, in the coming days.

We hope we all remain free and fearless as the dawn of a new decade approaches. A meaningful happy holidays to all!

Lia Mai Torres
Executive Director
Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines

Leon Dulce
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

Mitzi Jonelle Tan
Convener
Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines

Chuck Baclagon
Coordinator
350.org Pilipinas