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Climate Change Commission vice chair puts Philippines in diplomatic dillema

Published 17th November 2010 - 1 comments - 2215 views -

Climate commission vice chair puts country in diplomatic dilemma

BenCyrus G. Ellorin


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Climate Change Commission vice chairperson Heherson Alvarez may have usurped the authority of President Noynoy Aquino by committing the country to support South Korea’s bid to host the 2012 Climate Change Summit.


This move by Alvarez may also have impacts on the Mindanao peace process as it may displease Qatar, also a bidder for the 2012 summit. Qatar is a consistent supporter of the country’s bid to have observer status in the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).


A letter from from the Dept. of Foreign Affairs dated Nov. 12, 2010 rebuked Alvarez for committing support to the bid of South Korea to host the 2012 climate summit.


Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erlinda F. Basilio told Alvarez that as early as May19, 2010, the country has already declared its support to the bid of Qatar to host the 2012 Climate Change Summit.


Mindanews also obtained a copy of the a letter by Alvarez dated July 12, 2010 to Ambassador to the Philippines Lee Hye-Min saying that the Climate Change Commission is supporting the bid of South Korea for the 2012 climate summit.


In his letter, Alvarez told the Korean Ambassador that “The Climate Change Commission supports this initiative for reasons of proximity to the Philippines, the familiarity of your government on the UNFCC process, and the capacity of your country to host this event.’


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) host annual climate summit or Conference of Parties (COP). This year the COP 16 or Climate Change Summit will be held in Cancun, Mexico in December.


Basilio told Alvarez in that the country is supporting the bid of Qatar is that it has more similar position on climate change as the Philippines, it being a member of the Group of 77 and China.


She added that the political decision to support Qatar is also a form of reciprocity as the country has “consistently  supportedthe Philippines’ OIC Observer bid, including at the 37th Council of  Foreign Ministers Meeting on May 18 – 20, 2010 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.”


Building the expectations of Korea and failing to meet this commitment have dire consequences

Red Constantino, director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) said that Alvarez’s unilateral action “is just so fundamentally wrong and so outrageous on so many levels – for the nth time.”


He asked  “How long can Malacañang tolerate the situation? The country is in a hemorrhagic situation, but instead of blood the government is shedding political credibility at a dangerous rate.”


The Climate Change Act of 2009 which created the Commission designates the President as the chairperson of the Climate Change Commission. Aside from Alvarez, the Commission has two other members, lawyer Lucille Sering, a former Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary and Naderev Sano, a former climate campaigner from the World Wildlife Fund.


Constantino said that this is the “third major usurpation of authority” by the Alvarez.


As member of the Philippine delegation in the 2009 Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Alvarez, without consulting then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the controversial Copenhagen Climate Deal. The Philippines formally withdrew its support to the deal in February 2010.


In September this year, Alvarez, without authority by the President and consultation with the other members of the Commission, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines designating the bank as the National Implementing Entity of the country with respect to the UN’s climate change Adaptation Fund.


Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Congressman Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao party list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez has filed a resolution in the House of Representatives to investigate the lack of collegiality in the climate change commission.


In the run-up of the formation of the Philippine delegation to the Cancun summit next month and fears of worsening climate change impacts getting more realistic, Malacanang officials and climate change groups will meet today (Nov. 17) in Traders Hotel.


“President Aquino must be given a free hand in choosing the Vice Chair of the Commission. During this period of worsening climate impacts, vulnerable communities deserve, expect and require decisive leadership exercised at the national level," said Constantino.


Aksyon Klima, a broad coalition of groups working climate change will be dialoguing with Malacanang representative lead by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Dr. Neric Acosta and members of the Climate Change Commission.


 “Aksyon Klima Pilipinas welcomes the initiative of Malacañang to dialogue with civil society on the issue of climate change,” Rowena Bolinas.


The country has been beset by unrelenting, destructive extreme weather events of late, which has imposed tremendous economic costs on vulnerable communities, particularly women in agriculture.


“Aksyon Klima Pilipinas is elated at the opportunity to exchange views and, potentially, craft common goals with the Aquino administration, particularly on issues related to adaptation, finance and low carbon development,” the civil society coalition said in a statement.


On November 18, 2010, climate campaigners will turn its focus in Surigao City with the launching of the climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction campaign dubbed “Depensa!”

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