Philippines Day of Action vs Debt and Ifis Oct 13 2011On the 6th Day of the Global Week of Action (GWA) vs Debt and International Financial Institutions (IFIs), the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) and Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD) jointly conducted an 'Embassy Caravan" earlier this morning. This forms part of the Philippine contributions to the GWA vs Debt and IFIs being observed by people's movements and NGO networks in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America.

The 'Embassy Caravan', which stopped by the Embassies of Mexico, Norway and South Africa, openly called on their respective governments to not let the World Bank (WB) manage the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF will serve as repository of Climate Finance pledges under the UNFCCC and will take charge of managing and disbursing these funds. These three governments, represented by their embassies in the Philippines, serve as Co-Chairs of the Transitional Committee of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Committee is tasked with preparing the proposal for the design and operations of the GCF, to be approved at the UNFCCC's COP17 (17TH Conference of Parties) that will be held in Durban, South Africa this December.

During today's collective action, around 150 climate justice activists from various people's organizations and climate change-affected communities actively participated. Before riding in a convoy of seven jeepneys and a sound system-mounted truck, the contingent of mobile protesters was first blessed by the 'Running Priest', Fr. Robert Reyes inside the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) compound in Intramuros, Manila at 8:30a.m.

Leaving the CBCP thirty minutes later, the Embassy Caravan immediately proceeded toward the direction of the nearby US Embassy before heading on to the other three embassies located in Makati City. The flying column of activists loudly honked their horns as they directly passed in front of the American Embassy as a symbolic gesture of demanding the US to make deep and drastic emissions cuts as a step towards a real climate solution. In addition, this also shows that the South countries do not bow to America's type of bullying to push its agenda, which is to make the World Bank the permanent trustee of the GCF.

Upon reaching the Mexican Embassy, and then later on the Norwegian Embassy, the caravan stopped to hold very brief programs. Before leaving each foreign mission, a small delegation of activist leaders officially forwarded letters addressed to their capitals expressing the group's clear position strongly opposing any role for both the WB and private capital in relation to the proposed climate finance mechanism. After leaving the Norwegian Embassy, the activists then headed straight to the South African Embassy to hold their last and main rally program. They also submitted another letter to the SA diplomatic mission addressed to Pretoria.

During their main program, the climate justice activists parodied the currently popular computer game 'Angry Birds' to visualize the main message of the action. The story of the Angry Birds starts with the green pigs stealing the eggs of the birds, thus, making them angry. In the action, the green pigs symbolize the IFIs (WB), the eggs they stole from the angry birds symbolize the five crucial factors to solve the climate crisis – adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer, capacity-building and finance. The angry birds are the peoples of the global South aiming to pressure the three governments (represented by their respective embassies in Manila) to strictly prohibit the World Bank from having any role in the GCF.

Before the program ended, the representatives of JSAPMDD, FDC and PMCJ spoke and gave their messages among others. According to Val Vibal, a member of the Coordinating Committee of the PMCJ, said that, "The Philippines has recently again become a national victim of global climate change with Typhoon Pedring massively devastating our country's human and material resource infrastructure. As such, our country is now badly in need of emergency funds which the Philippine Government obviously does not have much of and also, cannot afford to release every time a destructive natural calamity hits us. Therefore, the pressing need for the creation of a World Bank-free and private capital-free Green Climate Fund is now an urgent global reality that should not be delayed any longer if the world's poor and vulnerable majority is to clearly survive into the first half of the 21st Century."

Likewise, the FDC's OIC for Debt and Public Finance, Jofti Villena, said, "We cannot trust the World Bank at all. Not only because of its long and notorious track record of financing projects that destroyed the environment and harmed people, but also because the measures it pushes makes peoples and countries become more indebted and, therefore, it buries them deeper into poverty. We cannot accept funds in the form of loans because it is not the peoples of the South who owe, but the governments of the North that control the World Bank. In fact, it is they who should pay reparations for climate debt."

And lastly, according to Lidy Nacpil, the Regional Coordinator of JSAPMDD, "The World Bank has been at the forefront of financing fossil-fuel projects that have exacerbated the climate crisis. It is now an ironic contradiction that this same institution that has greatly contributed to the climate crisis is to be entrusted with funds that promise to address the very same problem it helped to create in the first place. Hence, we cannot accept any such arrangement for the WB in the still-to-be established Green Climate Fund."