Father John Leydon of the Global Catholic Climate Movement blesses the crowd during a Mass to mark World Environment Day in Manila on June 5. (Photo by Roy Lagarde)
A Philippine faith-based organization has decried the recent decision of the United States to pull out of the Paris climate accord to reduce emissions.
"It's a terrible setback," said Father John Leydon, an Irish Columban missionary and one of the movers of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
The priest said U.S. President Donald Trump's decision places the world's "most vulnerable people" at risk, adding that failure to take action could lead to bigger problems to people in coastal regions of Asia.
"The Philippines and the Asia Pacific region are literally going under water," said Father Leydon. "We haven't much more time, but we need to try," added the priest.
Trump, who previously declared that climate change is a hoax, said his decision not to uphold the Paris climate accord is driven by economic factors.
He said the accord, which was signed by nearly 200 countries, was "bad for business."
Father Leydon said the U.S. decision could also be a "wake up call" for people "to a reality that we have got to face."
The Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc., meanwhile, staged protest demonstrations in Manila to urge the Philippine government to protect watersheds and agricultural lands from "destructive extraction."
Yolanda Esguerra, national coordinator of the organization, said they hope to bring to the public's consciousness "how mining companies destroy forests, mountains and seas."
Esguerra called on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte "to take decisive action and strong directives" to protect communities from "deteriorating environmental conditions."