Solons push bill offering refuge to foreign climate change migrants

MANILA: A group of lawmakers on Wednesday underscored the importance of having a law that would address the critical issue of climate-induced migration, particularly of those living in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific, who are disproportionately affected by the adverse impacts of climate change.

To show utmost concern and commitment to upholding international responsibility, members of the House of Representatives filed House Bill (HB) 10490, or “An Act Amending Section 47 of Commonwealth Act No. 613, otherwise known as the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.’

HB 10490 seeks to establish protections for environmental migrants or climate change refugees and highlights a commitment to humanitarian duty and the Filipino tradition of offering refuge in times of global crisis.

Representatives Edcel C. Lagman Sr. (Albay, 1st District), Robert Ace S. Barbers (Surigao del Norte, 2nd District), Pablo John F. Garcia (Cebu, 3rd District), Ziaur-Rahman Alonto Adiong (Lanao del Sur, 1st District) a
nd Samuel S. Verzosa Jr. (Party-list, Tutok to Win) introduced the bill.

“As a nation that has historically opened its doors to refugees, we must recognize and respond to the new challenges posed by climate change,” Adiong said.

He said the bill proposes the inclusion of a new paragraph, Section 47 (c), in the Philippine Immigration Act, allowing the President to admit foreign nationals who are environmental migrants seeking protection from climate change-related harms.

This amendment, he added, is a direct response to the escalating crisis faced by populations in low-lying island nations, who are at risk of losing their homes due to rising sea levels and severe weather events.

Research from the Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores the urgency of this issue, highlighting the imminent threats to habitability, safety, and human dignity in SIDS.

The bill proponents said the amendment is designed to facilitate a dignified and legally sound approach to assisting those forced to leave th
eir countries due to environmental changes.

“This legislation is a testament to our commitment to upholding human rights and our international responsibility,” Versoza said. “It is a proactive measure that not only addresses the immediate needs of climate refugees but also sets a precedent for global responses to similar crises.”

He also said the Philippines, with its own experiences of severe weather impacts, is positioned as a leader in advocating for the rights and protections of climate refugees on the international stage.

By recognizing and addressing the plight of climate refugees, the country reaffirms its role as a compassionate and proactive member of the global community, he went on to say.

Barbers, meanwhile, said the bill’s passage is eagerly sought, emphasizing the urgency of action required to mitigate the profound human impacts of climate change.

‘It now moves to the legislative process, where it will be subject to debates and further refinements,’ he added.

Source: Philippines News Agen