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“Why Hold on to P1-B Climate Change Fund?” Chiz asks DBM

By Ernie Reyes, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Escudero twitted the Department of Budget and Management Friday for holding on to the P1-billion People’s Survival Fund even as local government units continue to struggle with the impacts of extreme climate events, such as the recent typhoon “Lando.”

The PSF is a special fund created through Republic Act 10124, or “An Act Establishing the People’s Survival Fund to Provide Long-Term Finance Streams to Enable the Government to Effectively Address the Problem of Climate Change.”

Escudero, who chairs the committee on environment and natural resources, noted that many LGUs remain unaware that they can access the special fund to draw up long-term mitigation and adaptation programs for coping with climate change.

“You cannot just go from storm to storm, flood to flood. Climate change is behind these frequent and extreme weather events; LGUs should be more proactive in addressing the problems at the root, instead of being merely reactionary,” Escudero said.

The senator, who used to chair the finance committee, stressed that RA 10124 requires government to earmark P1 billion each year for the PSF, with any unused money remaining with the Fund instead of reverting to the National Treasury.

However, as of June 30, he said, there have been no releases from the PSF for this year.

“Why is that money still there? What is the point of having this special fund if nobody uses it? Meanwhile, our local governments contend with the impacts of climate change year-round — from prolonged droughts to heavy floods,” Escudero said.

“It’s been three years since we passed the law — has the PSF even been useful to anybody? What is stopping the government from releasing the money?” he asked.

He noted the 2016 National Expenditure Program provides that the P1 billion allocated as PSF next year “may likewise be used to cover any deficiency in the implementation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Program, and Yolanda Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program, subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines.”

The PSF may finance local adaptation initiatives such as water resources and land management; risk insurance for farmers, agricultural workers and other stakeholders; infrastructure development and protection of natural ecosystems; monitoring of vector-borne diseases triggered by climate change; forecasting and early warning systems; contingency planning for droughts and floods; establishing and strengthening information networks to support adaptation initiatives; and other community support programs by organizations accredited by the Climate Change Commission, which serves as the secretariat of the PSF Board.

Escudero urged LGUs to submit climate mitigation and adaptation proposals to the Climate Change Commission, which will then draw up a shortlist from which the PSF Board will choose recipients.

The PSF board is composed of the Department of Finance, Climate Change Commission, National Economic Development Authority, Philippine Commission on Women, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and representatives from nongovernmental organizations, business, and the academic and scientific community.

Editor’s Note: This article is reported from InterAksyon.com, October 23, 2015. Featured Image: “A boy walks past the devastation in Casiguran, Aurora caused by Typhoon Lando”, photo by Dante Diosina Jr., InterAksyon.com

For more information on the People’s Survival Fund, click here: PSF Board Information Portal for CSOs