Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles assures the Filipino people that they are consistently coordinating with the different government agencies to push for programs and projects that are adaptive to climate change, as 70 percent of Philippine municipalities are located along the coastlines and are vulnerable to climate risks.
Nograles, prior to attending the inauguration and turnover ceremony for an irrigation project in Narra town last November 25, served as keynote speaker during the Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change Resilience Conference at Palawan State University (PSU), in line with the 12th Annual Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week.
In his keynote address, he pointed out the importance of appropriate and immediate actions in order to mitigate the threats posed by climate change.
Citing the 1993 landmark decision of the Supreme Court (SC) about the Oposa vs. Factoran case, of which the children, represented by their parents, filed a suit asking the DENR to halt in giving permits to cut trees, the Cabinet Secretary calls for everyone to protect the nature and environment for the next generations, as they are the ones who will benefit on what we are doing at present.
In the said case were the parents invoked the rights of their children for a balanced and healthful ecology, the highest court ruled out in favor to the petitioners that children could file a suit for themselves and for their generation, as well as the succeeding generations and called it the “Doctrine of Inter-Generational Responsibility.” One of the fundamental rights of the Filipino citizens are clearly expressed in Sections 15 and 16, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution of which the latter says that “The state shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them” while the former “provides for protection and advancement of the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accordance to the rhythm and harmony of the nature.”
DATA ACROSS THE GLOBE
He then afterward asked if the people of the world, in general, were successful in attaining the goal, but the global data and facts divulged an alarming result.
Since 1993, Nograles said that the change in global surface relative to 1951 to 1980 becomes higher and higher; for instance, from the .31-degree centigrade data in 1994, it rose to .82 degrees centigrade in 2018. On the same year, he added that the total area of arctic sea ice was 6.4 million square kilometer but today, according to National Aeronautics and Services Administration (NASA) of the United States of America, it has been reduced to 4.32 million square kilometers, equivalent to “48.1 percent declined in just over a quarter of century.”
Relative again to the year 1993 when an important decision was made by the judicial department of the Philippines for the protection of the environment, the sea level is 94.6 millimeters, that is, an average of 3.3 millimeters each year. This data made him to express an inference and said it in Filipino that “Darating ang panahon na magiging mas mataas na ang tubig kaysa sa lupa.”
STATUS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Cabsec Nograles disclosed further that according to the Global Peace Index of 2019 Most Susceptible Country to Hazards brought by the Climate Change, there are actually 16 provinces in the Philippines that are more vulnerable to climate risks and do belong to “Top 50 Most Vulnerable Regions in South East Asia.” Four of which are listed as Top 10 Most Vulnerable Cities to climate-related hazards, not to mention that 822 of the municipalities of the country are coastal municipalities, including the Province of Palawan.
This rising sea level also posed very high concerns, especially in the coastal communities, Sec. Nograles added. The Philippines is one of the longest coastlines in the world and an estimated 13.6 million Filipinos are living in coastline areas.
Project Planet Scoring Risks Around the World of the HSPC Paper in 2018, he says, that it ranked the Philippines as Top 3 among 67 emerging countries that have the most vulnerability to climate change.
“[It] Shows that padami na nang padami ang municipalities and cities that are vulnerable to climate change,” he exclaimed.
He reiterated that people must be aware that the most adversely affected sectors in climate risks are the agriculture, water and coastline ecosystems.
He said that in agriculture, our backbone for food security experienced a P17.3 billion losses and damage in farm equipment and road facilities in 2015 alone.
He likewise warned the public that the source of water due to climate change, “According to the United Nations, [we] will experience a high degree of water shortage by 2040.”
“Ngayon pa lang sa Maynila, nararanasan na namin doon ang kakulangan ng tubig. Dito sa Palawan, siguro nararamdaman na rin ninyo ang kakulangan ng tubig. Eh kung i-multiply n’yo ‘yan by times three, times five, times ten, how much suffering will you be experiencing when you will be 40 to 45 years old!?” he told the students attending the forum.
In this juncture, Secretary of the Duterte’s Cabinet reiterates that one of the efforts of the current administration is putting the environmental protection issue as a top priority.
“The climate change cluster is now really focused on addressing the issues of climate change. Nakita naman natin na si Pangulo [Rodrigo Duterte], the first thing that he did was, he banned open-pit mining. And then ‘yung temporary closure of Boracay nakita natin, syempre ‘yung Manina Bay rehab that is still ongoing, ‘yung Pasig rehabilitation, ibinalik niya sa DENR and hopefully we’ll be able to get something good about that. But over and above that, lahat ng ating mga ginagawa, mga desisyon sa gobyerno is also focused on creating more resilient municipalities, and localities, making our infrastructure more resilient, making our communities more adaptive to climate change,” he said in a separate interview.
Nograles also cited that both secretaries now are working closely for the same goal, for instance increasing adaptive capacities, ensuring an adequate supply of fresh air, water, and other natural resources; increasing resilience of our infrastructure, enhancing knowledge of access to information and in institutional capacities.
“Yan ang road map endeavor para sa lahat,” he said.
He added that when President Rodrigo Duterte took office, one of the things that he focused on was to organize the Cabinet Cluster and the Climate Change Cluster, the lead office for the crucial endeavor.
He likewise shared that they are currently mapping-out the agricultural areas of the country and trying to develop and push for more resilient agricultural products.
“Pinag-aaralan natin siyempre ‘yung soil, ‘yung topography, ‘yung different climates ng different areas of the Philippines to find anong suitable crops doon. We’re also pushing for the propagation of more climate-resilient crops; inter-cropping is also one part of that,” he said.
And for the appropriate actions to be done by the concerned local government units of the Mimaropa Region, particularly, the City of Puerto Princesa and the Province of Palawan in order to mitigate the climate-induced risks, the Secretary said that the result of the said forum being attended by academe, the students, Climate Change Commission, and DENR will be consolidated and included in the Commission’s policy framework.
“Lahat naman tayo, we need to do more. I’m very happy na for the first time, in a long time, na-approve na ‘yung isang proyekto natin na maka-access sa Green Climate Fund. Ito ‘yung tinututukan namin ngayon na more projects and programs ang maka-access sa Green Climate Fund kasi usually, kapag pinag-uusapan natin ‘yung mga climate change projects and programs, ang unang tanong ay ‘Saan natin itsa-charge ‘yan?’ Eh ang lagi ko namang sinasabi na mayroon tayong People’s Survival Fund at we must not forget the Green Climate Fund,” he said.
PHILIPPINES, THE MOST VULNERABLE TO RISKS
“Kasi tayo, ang Pilipinas ang pinaka-vulnerable, tayo ‘yung nagsa-suffer ng effect ng climate change but we are not the number one pollutants. ‘Yung great pollutants po ay ‘yung mga develop countries kaya nga may Green Climate Fund para tayo na developing countries, who are experiencing the effects of the climate change, can take some sort of, ‘yung responsibilities ng bigger countries ay binabayaran nila itong mga effects ng climate change through this Fund,” he explained.
But Nograles reminds the public that this does not mean that we will stop doing our part.
“Sa responsibilities natin in terms of protecting the environment, in terms of anti-pollution efforts, ito na ‘yung tinututukan ng ating Pangulo na while we also address the problems on pollution, we address the problems of climate change, we must be able to access funds from international communities to pay for the projects that could make us climate change resilient and adaptive to the effect of the climate change,” he added.
ENCOURAGING THE LGUs TO BECOME STEWARDS OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Meanwhile, Mr. Ludwig Federigan of the Information and Knowledge Management Division of the Climate Change Commission-Philippines explained the importance of every LGU to have their own Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP).
“So far, mayroon po tayong 1,700 na local Government Units, mga munisipyo at mga siyudad and so far, more or less 1,191 have already complied with the requirements of the law. So, kung titingnan po natin, halos 70 per cent na po ang nagko-comply. Napaka-importante po itong mga LCCAP na ito, maliban sa ito ay science-based, important talaga mapatupad ‘to sa local level,” he said. “Kasi unang-una, kailangan natin ang local government unit para ma-push ‘yung mga patakaran o ‘yung mga programa ng gobyerno. Isa na rito kung paano sila maging capacitated sila, makapag-respond sila.”
He also reiterated that while the government continues their efforts in transforming society to have a green economy or to attain low carbon emissions, the higher education sector, the public, and private schools and all other sectors, could also help through sustainable practices.