Philippine labor

Think long-term: Frontliners demand better policies to overcome health, climate crises

Think long-term: Frontliners demand better policies to overcome health, climate crises
With the worsening climate impacts amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the urgent plea towards a scientific response is needed more than ever

How can policy-makers provide support for our medical frontliners and environmental defenders? Think long-term solutions.

This call was made by representatives from health and environmental organizations during the third episode of #CourageON: Tumindig, makialam, kumilos on Saturday, August 28. 

What needs to be happening is more support from the national government in creating a really coherent climate strategy that has both the adaptation- pagiging resilient sa climate crisis, tsaka mitigation- yung ‘pag reduce din natin ng greenhouse gas emissions.” Greenpeace Philippines IPCC expert Lea Guerrero said. 

(What needs to be happening is more support from the national government in creating a really coherent climate strategy that has both the adaptation- being resilient in the climate crisis, and mitigation- the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.) 

To celebrate National Heroes Day on Monday, August 30, the episode tackled ways to help modern-day heroes on the front lines as we face both the COVID-19 pandemic and the looming climate crisis. The show featured representatives from  Greenpeace Philippines, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, No to 174 Dumaguete Islands, Alliance of Health Workers, Philippine Medical Students’ Association, and Bantay Bakuna.

Guerrero also added that reclamation projects, such as the Smart City in Dumaguete, should be assessed based on their sustainability, as projects for the sake of economic recovery would eventually lead to environmental risks. 

According to Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment national coordinator Leon Dulce, such band aid solutions would later destroy our fully matured ecosystems. He highlighted that ordinary citizens such as indigenous peoples (IPs) and farmers play a huge role in conserving our environment. And so, he recommended that policies should also focus on the welfare of nature’s frontliners.

Marami tayong kailangang paghandaan. I doubt na napag-uusapan at nagpalalaanan ito ng sapat na aksiyon (ng gobyerno). And therefore, mas crucial talaga yung call to action na kailangan na natin ng pagkilos para dito.” Dulce said. 

(We have lots of preparations to put in mind. I doubt if the government discusses these nor consider taking action. Therefore it is crucial to start a call for action for this.)

The lack of long-term solutions was echoed during the second segment of the show where representatives from the healthcare industry shared how the gap in resources impacted how they delivered medical services for those in need. Recently, the COA report about the underutilized health budget triggered a wave of mass resignations from the healthcare workers. 

Walang scientific at komprehensibong plano ang ating gobyerno para sugpuin ang ating pandemya sa ngayon, at marami na tayong beses na nagrekomenda sa ating IATF at sa pangulo na dapat palitan na talaga yung mga namumuno.” Alliance of Health Workers national president Robert Mendoza said. 

(As of now, there are no scientific or comprehensive plans from the government to control or suppress this pandemic, and we have already expressed our recommendation to the IATF and to the president that the leadership be changed.)

Nakakalungkot po ano kasi aabot na tayo ng dalawang taon pero paulit-ulit ‘yung ating ginagawa, paulit-ulit yung quarantine status natin from ECQ to MECQ,” he added. 

(It is so saddening knowing that it has been 2 years already but we still do the same thing, the quarantine status from ECQ to MECQ is just repetitive.)

This pushed the demand to replace the IATF with funded scientists so that COVID-19 strategy would focus on reliable contact tracing and mass testing, and a speedy vaccine rollout. This way, health workers would guarantee a controlled response that would later on be beneficial to the future of the people and the healthcare industry.

The community show ended with a concrete call to action to register to vote for the upcoming elections. By doing so, voters can help amplify important calls of frontliners and vote for future leaders who would support long-term solutions to address health and environmental issues in the country. The voter registration will end on September 30. – with reports from Waya Lao/Rappler.com

Waya Lao is a Rappler intern from the University of the Philippines Diliman. She is a senior taking up a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philippine Studies major in Creative Writing in Filipino and Anthropology.