Groups urge for the passage of the Rights of Nature Bill

Groups urge for the passage of the Rights of Nature Bill

The Rights of Nature Bill was the main topic for the 363rd session of the Kamayan Para sa Kalikasan Forum held on September 18, 2020 hosted by Green Convergence Philippines.

Atty. Mario Maderaso introduced the bill to the participants as “a legislative proposal anchored on a paradigm shift”.

“There are 2 bills being filled in Congress. Senate Bill 1097 and House Bill 5603 or the Rights of Nature Act. The bill recognizes that nature has legal rights. Being part of nature, we need to recognize its existence. The protection of its rights would also mean the protection of our existence.” he said.

“In inducting this bill, we were supported by an organization based in the US who are also promoting the rights of nature. What is distinct to the principles being followed by other rights of nature advocates in other countries, we have included the coexistence of human rights and the rights of nature.” he added.

“Giving legal personality to the rights of nature, its legal consequence is that it will have a standing in court. Meaning, whenever the rights of nature are violated or damaged, through human agency, a case can be filed in court.” explained Atty. Maderaso.

“Any Philippine resident may file an action” he added.

“There was this case filed by environmental lawyers in Cebu. THey have filed a case on behalf of marine mammals. The petition was dismissed because the marine mammals by itself are not recognized as having a distinct legal personality.

“The court will award certain damages, punitive measures to the violators. These damages will not go personally to those who file the case, but it will go to a trust fund that will be later on managed by a conservation committee.”


Yolly Esguerra, PMPI Coordinator further discussed the campaign on rights of nature.

“The campaign is about the push to recognize the rights of nature.”

“Currently, the models of development paradigm are actually causing the environment to be destroyed continuously.”

“All this environmental destruction is actually largely man-induced and anthropogenic. 

“It is saddening because if you see the statistics, the percentage of humanity in the whole ecosystem and way of life is so small, but our actions are so destructive.” 

(“Nakakalungkot kasi if you see the statistics, the percentage of humanity in the whole ecosystem and way of life, napakaliit lang ang human, but so destructive ang ating mga gawain.”)

“To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. This entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems.”

“That is why there is a call for a paradigm shift. We come from the same source, if humans have rights, nature should have rights too.”

(“Kaya ang panawagan is a paradigm shift. Ang pinagmulan natin ay iisa, Kung may karapatan ang tao, may karapatan rin ang kalikasan.”)

Goldman Environmental Prize Recipient Fr. Edwin Gariguez supported this point as he read a quote from Laudato Si, the encyclical of Pope Francis. “When nature is viewed solely as a source of profit, this has serious consequences for a society.” 

“We need to move from a utilitarian, market driven mindset towards an ecological worldview in order to rectify the exploitative development paradigm” he said.

“We need to recover our connectedness with the earth. Without this shift in consciousness, the destruction of ecosystems in exchange for profit will continue” he added.

“Because that is all we see, how much is the profit? What is valuable to the person? But we don’t see what is valuable to nature” he said.

(“Kasi yun lang ang nakikita natin, ano yung kita? Ano yung mahalaga sa tao? Pero hindi natin nakikita yung mahalaga sa kalikasan.”)

In response, Gariguez emphasized the importance of Eco-spirituality and the role of the Indigenous People.

“Many Indigenous Peoples still have respect and love for the earth. We need to learn from them. For them, the land and everything on the earth is permeated with the presence of the spirit” he explained.

As a call for action, he reinforced “the need to affirm the sacredness of mother nature.”

(“Marami pa ring katutubo na mayroong respect and love for the earth. Kinakailangan natin matuto sa kanila.”)

“It is an exciting challenge; we are all one in our paradigm that nature has to be respected” said Dr. Nina Galang, president of Green Convergence.

Since March 1990, Kamayan Para Sa Kalikasan Forum, held every 3rd Friday of each month, has become an institutionalized platform that enables NGO and government representatives, the media, students, teachers, church groups, and concerned citizens to discuss pressing environmental issues in the country. The forum is organized by Green Convergence and is supported by Kamayan Restaurant EDSA with the assistance of the Forest Foundation Philippines.

Watch the full September 2020 Kamayan Forum here:


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