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21 Jul 2020

Hasminah Dimaporo Paudac, OpenGlobalRights

Philippines: NGOs argue case alleging companies' responsibility for climate change and human rights impacts before the Commission on Human Rights

"Toppling modern-day Goliaths in the fight against climate polluters," 15 July 2020

[Greenpeace Philippines, 13 other organizations, and 18 individuals have argued] the first case…in the world tackling the responsibility of big polluters on the interdependent issues of climate change and human rights. This case was in an important but unusual venue—the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines…the respondents (47 fossil fuel and cement companies) are headquartered outside the Philippines.

…The big polluters’ early knowledge and active involvement in science should have led them to seek ways to mitigate and prevent carbon emissions from their products. Instead, they continued with their dangerous business-as-usual stance.

…[T]he Commission on Human Rights…is the best legal body to hear such an important and novel case, due to its flexibility and ability to take on complex matters. We were fortunate to have the Philippine Constitution on our side, mandating the Commission to investigate all forms of human rights violations involving Filipinos wherever they may be situated.

…Commissioner Roberto Cadiz, gave an early indication of the findings in the case: that big polluters cannot only be found legally and morally liable for harms linked to climate change but that, in circumstances involving obstruction, deception, or fraud, the relevant criminal intent may exist to hold them accountable under both civil and criminal laws.