Dr Rommel F. Linatoc reflected on the issues of water and sanitation from an ecumenical perspective in the Philippines at the Global Forum of the Ecumenical Water Network (EWN) of the World Council of Churches titled "Like a tree planted by the water", which took place from 25-27 November in Nairobi, Kenya.
Linatoc was representing the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, which recently joined EWN as a member and the Christian Conference of Asia. He was one of the twenty delegates participating in the event from around the world.
Linatoc was interviewed by Fredrick Nzwili, a journalist from Kenya.
How is your organization involved in the working for water and sanitation?
We are engaged in three areas, in education, advocacy, networking and policy lobbying. So, these are the general areas that we are working, in relation to water and sanitation back home in the Philippines.
In education, we are referring to water as a basic right that the government and other civil societies’ members need to address together.
In terms of advocacy, we are linking it with other issues like mining, environment and issues about creations.
In terms of networking, we are lobbying our senate and congress to pass resolutions that can advance this cause, particularly, in uplifting the conditions of those who are in marginalized situations.
It’s not all Filipinos who are enjoying good and safe water, since almost 60 per cent of our population is affected by the problem. Only 40 per cent are enjoying this richness of creation.
What challenges are you are facing in the work for water?
In the Philippines, if you are advocating for cases like policy reforms, you are talking to, for example corrupt officials from the government. Then your life is threatened. Actually, last week, one of the priests was murdered due to advocacy work related to indigenous peoples’ protection of the environment. Indigenous people are the ones protecting water reserves found in the forests. It is because of his advocacy he was murdered. We see this as extra-judicial killings and the culture of impunity, which is very rampant in my country.
How are you dealing with those challenges?
Advocacy, education and policy making are pro-causes that have been added to our networking. We are also calling the attention of all international partners and friends to really raise these issues to the United Nations commission on human rights.
How has the network helped you in your work?
The network is good in the sense that it enables us engage both in secular and theological discussions on the issue water. Since my church and the councils I am working with are church related institutions, these kinds of networks that are regional and worldwide will help us address water issues holistically.
For us, water is an issue of human rights and dignity. Once that dignity and human right is eradicated from each individual then it become a political issue that some of our churches don’t want to be involved. However, I think water is a political matter that needs to be addressed politically.