by Francis Ryan Pabiania | November 30, 2021
The proposed reclamation activities in Dumaguete City and “development aggression” that have recently sparked conversation are among the issues that a Sillimanian advocate focused to address.
Joshua Villalobos, former co-chairperson of the Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Committee, said that there is a visible increase in the number of development aggressions in the Philippines, including the controversial construction of the 174-hectare Smart City reclamation project that has been opposed by several sectors in the said city.
“Our current work focuses on addressing development aggressions that continue to affect the lives, lifestyle, and livelihood of vulnerable communities such as farmers, fisherfolks, and most especially, the future generations,” said Villalobos.
According to him, the need to raise voices has “never been as crucial as ever” while empowering communities and generations to speak up for their human right to a healthy environment.
Recently, Villalobos was among the awardees who received the first-ever Negros Occidental Governor’s Conservationist Achievement Award, to recognize environmental leaders among the 31 local government units (LGUs) who worked for environmental conservation, protection, and other related advocacies.
Villalobos was among the seven other awardees who were recognized in the Non-Government Organization category as the convenor of Youth 4 Climate Hope.
Several members of the media, academic institutions, individual environment leaders, and organizations were among the awardees.
When asked about his message to the youth and fellow advocates, Villalobos said that they should continue to hope and transform it into action.
He added that as environmental destruction continues, there is a need to “continue to fight” for the environment.
“Development aggression, which is always in favor of profit over people and the planet, is a trend around the world. Unfortunately, we live in a system that often puts the voices of the small and vulnerable in the gutters,” said Villalobos.