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Office of Philippine President reaches out to climate groups

Published 13th November 2010 - 0 comments - 1199 views -

Philippine President's office reaches out as climate groups

prepare for defense mode in Mindanao

By BenCyrus G. Ellorin


Climate change campaigners have many things to fret about including the fractiousness of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) less than two months before the 2010 Climate Change Summit in Cancun, Mexico.

But many are happy that after a long time, Malacanang has reached out to climate change groups and set a meeting with the broad civil society alliance Aksyon Klima on Nov. 17, 2010 in Manila. However, it is not the Chairperson of the CCC, Pres. Noynoy Aquino who will be meeting them but Budget Secretary Butch Abad and Dr. Nereus Acosta, a losing Senatorial candidate of the President’s political party and is now being groomed to be the next Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources once the one-year ban from public office to losing candidates lapses.

The meeting is dubbed “Agenda Klima: Forging the National Climate Change Agenda for the Aquino Administration.”

Republic Act 9729 or the Climate Change Act of 2009 designates the President as the Chairperson of the CCC. Commissioner Lucille Sering said that the intent of the law in having the President to head the Commission is to put thehighest accountability on government to climate change issues.

“It would have been better to have a direct dialogue with the Chair of the CCC and I hope that this will still be forthcoming,” said Roy Cabonegro, Secretary General of the Partido Kalikasan Institute (PKI).

Aside from the President, the Commission has three members, with former Senator and former climate-czar of the Arroyo administration Heherson Alvarez as vice chairperson. Sering, a former undersecretary in the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources and Naderev Sano, a former climate campaigner of World Wildlife Fund are the Commissioners.

Aquino has yet to convene an en banc meeting of the Commission. Alvarez on the other is facing allegations of “unilateral” actions of Alvarez in the Commission. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have investigated the lack of collegiality in the operations of the commission.

Climate campaigners are starting to get worried with the fractiousness in the CC Commission especially that the country is currently forming its delegation to the Cancun Climate Change Summit in December this year.

A source from the Aksyon Klima said that they will try to block any attempt to put Alvarez as the head of delegation. He said that they’d rather have the President himself lead the delegation to the important international gathering.

The 2010 Human Development Index report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released early this month had recognized that climate change is the biggest development issue that may undermine improvements in economies, education and health in the last three decades.

The Philippines which lies in between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea is considered a highly vulnerable country in terms of climate change impacts. More frequent and more severe extreme weather events will hit the country as a result of climate change.

The devastation brought about by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year to crops, property and infrastructure was estimated to be around P207-billion. This is more than 200 percent bigger compared to the direct damage of typhoons in the last two decades which cost over P92-billion. Typhoon Juan that his the country last year wrought almost P12-billion, largely hitting rice production.

Meanwhile, in Surigao City on Nov. 18, Depensa!, a climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction campaign will be launched by Oxfam and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) together with community groups and local government units in the Caraga and Central Mindanao regions which been implementing adaptation projects.

The Depensa! campaign aims to create high community awareness and action on the need for climate change adaptation and to call on government to take the lead in protecting public welfare and advancing real sustainable development in a climate changing world.


"Rolling out a campaign calling for the defense of livelihoods and ecosystems is urgent," said iCSC's director Red Constantino.


“In Mindanao, the impacts of climate change are increasingly felt from extreme weather events that cause floods or severe drought, especially in the areas of Agusan Sur, Agusan Norte, and Sultan Kudarat, adversely affecting agricultural production and settlements. On the other hand, coastal communities in Surigao Sur are in danger of rising sea and tidal levels,” according the Marie Madamba-Nunez of Oxfam.


The Depensa! campaign supports bills filed in the Senate and House of Representatives seeking to establish a People’s Survival Fund (PSF). The PSF intends to finance adaptation programs and projects of local governments and communities. By crafting adaptation plans based on climate vulnerability, the PSF incentivizes early local adaptation action.


"The PSF is critical to communities, who should not have to wait for the occurrence of climate change-induced calamities before they are able to access funds to cope with anticipated climatic impacts. Neither should they have to tap budgets for essential social services in order to fund adaptation initiatives," said Lourd de Veyra of Dakila, an artist collective supporting the Depensa! campaign.


"We expect the Depensa! campaign to contribute key lessons and opportunities during this critical time, when government is undertaking discussions about the country's budget and its medium-term development plan," Constantino said.


The Depensa! launching will be held at Philippine Gateway Hotel in Surigao City. Local government, communitiy representatives and civil society groups, largely from Mindanao, and members of the legislature will be attending the meeting, including representatives of the executive such as the Climate Change Commission. #


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