Solon: Declare 2020 as disaster consciousness year for PH

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has recently filed House Resolution 535, asking Congress to declare 2020 as Disaster and Climate Emergency Awareness Year, a call to continuous public caution on dangers brought by increasingly deadly weather events spawned by climate change.

His call came following a recent visit to the House by members of the Philippine Councilor’s League after their First PCL Conference on Climate-Disaster Resilience and Federalism Governance in Quezon City. 

The PCL leaders, led by Albay Board Member Jesciel Richard Salceda, urged the lawmakers, including House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, to consider the working output of the PCL climate change conference—the declaration of 2020 as Disaster and Climate Change Awareness Year.

Salceda, designated by the United Nations as Senior Global Champion for DRR-CCA, said the Philippines has been suffering from a “disaster and climate emergency which now compels a whole-of-government and whole-of-nation policy response to anticipate, halt, reduce, reverse, address and adapt to its impacts, consequences and causes.”

His HR 535 responds to the PCL’s challenge and calls his colleagues in Congress to support and act on it. The declaration aims to highlight the role of the LGUs in leading the process of transformation and adaptation to climate change and disaster resilience, along with business communities and other stakeholders.

The lawmaker urged his fellow legislators to: 1) Declare 2020 as Disaster and Climate Emergency Awareness Year; 2) Conduct continuous inquiries in aid of legislation and in relation to its oversight functions, on measures being implemented by all concerned national agencies and local government units to address the impacts of disasters and climate change on the fundamental rights of Filipinos;

3) Ensure the full integration and convergence of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts through the passage of the Department of Disaster Resilience bill as an urgent policy response; and 4) Enjoin a whole-of-government, whole-of-nation and whole-of-society mobilization on disaster and climate emergency, in behalf of climate-vulnerable communities, LGUs and other stakeholders in the country.

Salceda said the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in its 2016 Paris Agreement, had recognized that climate change adaptation, which ensures global responsiveness and societal resilience for a sustainable future, is a global challenge.

The Paris Agreement, which involves the Philippines, acknowledge that science and the best available technology should be harnessed to inform and guide climate change adaptation efforts, including access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessment by 2030.

Recently, the UN Green Climate Fund had approved a $10 million grant for a multi-hazard impact-based forecasting and early warning system in the Philippines. Another $58 million is set to be released in February next year, for similar projects.

Salceda was the first Asian UN-GCF co-chair, elected by 172 developing countries China, India Africa and Latin America.

Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said the Philippines has already suffered tremendous losses, damages, and disruptions due to destructive typhoons.

Among them are Typhoons Reming in 2006 which also triggered mudslides and rockslides in Albay, earlier deposited by Mayon Volcano’s previous eruptions; and Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009, which devastated Metro Manila, and key regions of Luzon; Supertyphoons Yolanda in 2013 which left over 6,000 casualties, and affected about 16 million Filipinos; and Pablo and Sendong, which devastated Mindanao, previously regarded as typhoon-free.

He likewise noted the casualties inflicted by Typhoons Urduja, Vinta, Rosita and Usman, and the Naga landslides in Cebu which all happened between December 2017 and December 2018, as well as the El Niňo phenomenon and the forest fires it caused in 2015-2016 which devastated Mindanao, with billions of pesos damage to agriculture.

He pointed out that despite the efforts by various national agencies tasked to confront disasters, up to now the country is still grappling with institutional issues on climate and disaster governance.

Global leaders, scientists, environmentalists, and policymakers have warned about the spectre of climate-related disasters and emergencies, Salceda added.

“These require urgent policy responses, particularly to assess whether the institutional mechanisms, national government agencies and local government units created by Congress are up to the task of addressing climate and disaster impacts and whether our national and local budget allocations and expenditures are climate and disaster responsive,” he stressed.

Topics: Joey Sarte Salceda , Disaster and Climate Emergency Awareness Year , Philippine Councilor’s League
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