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Enrile moves to rescue Climate Change Act from funding woes

Senate Press Release
November 11, 2010

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile today said he will not allow the environmental and disaster-risk mitigation measures under the Climate Change Act of 2009 to be waylaid by lack of funds.

Enrile has moved for the establishment of a People’s Survival Fund under the above-mentioned law to provide the government the long-term finance streams it needs to effectively address climate change.

“We must put our money where our mouth is. Otherwise, the 2009 Climate Change Act (Republic Act 9729), for all its noteworthy measures and policy directions, will just be a scrap of paper,” Enrile said.

The Senate President is intent on strengthening RA 9729 such that he filed Senate Bill 2558 last month to infuse the law with no less than eight new funding provisions (Sections 18 to 25) under a new Title III, “The People’s Survival Fund.”

Enrile proposed the new funding sources for RA 9729 as follows:

– P50 million as its initial share from the national budget to be adjusted annually as necessary;

– 10% from cash dividends declared by government-owned and-controlled corporations;

– 5% of what is earned in domestic industry emission reductions that utilize international carbon market instruments; and

– 10% of the 7.5% share of the Department of Transportation and Communication in the special vehicle control fund under RA 8794, the law that imposes a “user’s charge” on an all motor vehicle users.

The contributions to the fund shall be exempt from donor’s tax and shall be considered as allowable deductions from the gross income of the donor, in accordance with the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 as amended.

“The fund shall be suppletory to any annual appropriations by relevant government agencies for climate change-related programs and projects and by LGU’s… {and shall be} flexible to allow co-sharing arrangements such as but not limited to co-financing between government, local communities, private sector and or other local non-government entities,” read a part of Sec. 20 of Enrile’s proposed amendment.

The fund shall be received and supervised by a proposed People’s Survival Board, which shall be lodged under the Climate Change Commission already created under RA 9729. It shall be headed by a member of the commission.

Under the bill, the fund shall be used for activities that are in direct support of the objectives enumerated in the climate change action plans of LGUs, as well as for policy adaptation projects.

“It is our people who suffer the onslaught of environmental disturbances, whose severity as we’ve seen last year with the devastating caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, can only get worse due to climate change,” Enrile said.

Codenamed Ketsana internationally, Ondoy hit the Philippines in September of 2009, killing 464 people and causing total estimated damage of P11,157,508,720.60 ($237,141,524.35). A few days later, the country was then battered by Pepeng (internationally named Pharma), killing 465 and wreaking damage worth P19,626,396,249.91 ($417,139,070.14)

The Climate Change Act of 2009 has been criticized by environmentalists as a mere affirmation by the Philippines of what has been already established by the international community for decades–that “climate change is a real and present concern that needs to be addressed concertedly at the local, national and global levels.”

But Enrile believes the law can be made better, tweaked and fine-tuned to help the Philippines minimize disaster risks while adapting better to climate change. In fact, Enrile not only pushed the creation of the People’s Survival Fund, but also incorporated a number of many other amendments, from the preliminary provisions to improving the mandate of functions of the Climate Change Commission.

Among the international environmental agreements the Philippines signed and which had been incorporated in the Climate Change Act of 2009 are the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Hyogo Framework for Action.

Photo of Angat Reservior during the height of El Nino by Gigie Cruz-Sy.

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