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How can PSF change the way we battle climate change?

What is the People’s Survival Fund Bill? FAQs on the People’s Survival Fund

The People’s Survival Fund Bill or PSF Bill seeks to buff-up Republic Act No.9729 or the Climate Change Act of 2009 by “financially empowering” the Climate Change Commission in financing “local” climate change adaptation and mitigation projects. Establishing PSF will push for the realization of the pressing need to localize and integrate identified national strategies and frameworks on climate talks to communities in addressing the adverse effects of climate change.

Filed simultaneously in both Houses of the Philippine Congress, PSF Bill is filed as Senate Bill No. 2811 by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and as House Bill 6235 by Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III. PSF Bill is related but distinctly different from other existing climate change-related legislation. The PSF Bill is crafted to address the less obvious but equally important climate change impacts; the slow onset climate change impacts (such as increasing temperature) are currently stagnant at the drawing tables of concerned agencies due to the lack of funding. By incentivizing the vulnerability of

communities to climate change, PSF is comprehensive enough to financially cover both climate change adaptation and mitigation projects.

Why do we need the People’s Survival Fund?

Apart from creating the precedence in the attempts to establish effective climate finance mechanisms in the Philippines, the reasons why PSF is vital in the lives of Filipinos is surprisingly practical for a very technical bill.

a. PSF offers direct access to vulnerable communities- As an innovative funding mechanism, PSF will be open to climate-vulnerable communities without the much politicized “trickle-down” effect of common nationally established funds. Local communities can directly access PSF by proposing projects that aim to increase a community’s resiliency to climate change. With PSF in hand, accessing communities can create especially fitted climate change adaptation and mitigation projects according to the actual needs of the communities. PSF will go to where it is needed; projects will come from the people.

b. PSF promotes social justice by funding a tool for climate justice- As a developing country, the Philippines shares negligible amounts of carbon emissions when compared to other developed countries but the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. This fact is supported by the Philippines’ archipelagic topography; moreover, “vulnerability” to climate change is also due to the incapacity of communities to adapt. PSF will cut down the vulnerability through the most practical approach of

financing worthwhile climate change adaptation and mitigation projects.

c. PSF will remove mid-players and strings in typical fund allocations- The Philippines is short of a national implementing entity in handling funds allocated for climate-change related endeavors. Climate funds used to be diverted to the Philippine coffers as loans or a grant-loan hybrid even if the fund can be accessed fully as a grant, donation, or financial obligation by developed countries to developing countries. Philippines is put in a financially disempowered position not just because of the loans’ interest but also because of the strings-attached to such financial agreements. Experience shows that the Philippines has been long victimized by the X-deals in most financial agreements it entered. With the PSF, the Philippine government will be able to establish a national implementing entity capable of handling the technicalities of finance while pushing for the immediate realization of local climate change adaptation and mitigation plans without the strings typically encountered in international loans.

Who can access PSF?

When signed into law, PSF will be fully and intentionally allocated to fund local climate change adaptation and mitigation projects. This Fund will open its door to local citizen groups, local government units, non-government organizations, and other accredited organizations. As an innovative Fund, PSF puts more weight on the quality of the project proposals submitted by the mentioned groups and not on the technical financial requirements that made access to other existing funds too difficult for ordinary people.

What is the nature of PSF?

PSF when signed into law will allocate 1 Billion pesos as a starting amount for the FUND, which can be replenished if proven necessary. The Fund can also be increased by endowments, grants, financial obligation, and donations from third parties.

The Philippines already has its fair share of funds, some of which have been the center of controversies. PSF is best described as a smart fund simply because it challenges proposing parties to think of ways of optimizing the Fund. Different from common “superfunds”, local communities must find a way of blending or integrating PSF to other existing funds such as the Calamity Fund, Infra Funds, and other funds.

How will PSF be governed?

The PSF Bill puts the Climate Change Commission, an annex of the Office of the President, in a financially-empowered position that best complement its policy-centered successes. To aid the Commission a PSF Board will be put-up with the following members:

a. Secretary of the Department of Finance as Chair

b. Vice Chairperson of the Commission

c. Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management;

d. Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority

e. Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government

f. Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Women

g. A representative from the academe and scientific community

h. A representative from the business sector

i. A representative from the NGOs

What is the latest status of the PSF Bill?

The Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives passed and ratified PSF in a bicameral conference last 6th of June, 2012. Following the due process of legislation, PSF is about to be transmitted to the office of the President Noynoy Aquino for approval. The bill as a legislative agenda of both Houses is also expected to be included in the President’s line-up of legislative priorities..

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