“The President has just signed PSF into law”, these words reached us in the afternoon of August 17, 2012. After roughly two years of crafting, lobbying, and tinkering, the People’s Survival Fund was finally signed by President Benigno Aquino III.
According to Commissioner Mary Anne Lucille Sering of the Climate Change Commission, “Now, we have the means to make our communities safer against the intensifying effects of climate change.”
Tagged as Republic Act No. 10174, PSF amended the Climate Change Act of 2009 by establishing the Philippines’ first-ever climate finance mechanism. PSF obliges the government to allocate at least 1 billion pesos to fund local climate adaptation projects, which can be replenished when proven needed and increased by donations, grants, endowments, and other sources.
A billion pesos is very small when divided over all localities left helpless against the impacts of the changing climate. PSF cannot and will not fund disaster response operations but will focus on funding adaptation projects scientifically and logically proven to cut down the damages on lives and properties during disasters. PSF promotes prevention of incurring heavy losses when small but well-planned projects can be put into place. It can be said that PSF will challenge its beneficiaries to think of smart and innovative projects to optimize the uses of this very limited fund.
When PSF is still being lobbied, the “passing” of the bill became the centerpiece of discussions and debates. But now as a law, the talks surrounding PSF will slowly change to the tiniest details of ensuring that it will work among its target beneficiaries- local communities. Upon implementation, PSF will be managed by the PSF Board, which will be composed of government climate finance lead officials and a representative from the businesssector and civil society organizations.
After the long but memorable campaign for PSF, P-Noy’s signature capped it. After celebrating this success, work resumes with the challenge of ensuring that PSF will mark a milestone as a climate finance mechanism crafted with the intention of pooling national funds for local beneficiaries. The steadfast will of the leadership of its proponents makes “PSF’s passage as a start to a better life” an understatement.