ON the eve of a crucial climate change conference in Paris, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. reminded President Benigno Aquino III, who is attending the 21st United Nations Conference of the Parties, that politics has no place in dealing with natural disasters.
“I think the single most important lesson that we have to continue to remind ourselves is, politics has no place in the calamity area. We are talking about the lives of people. This is different,” Marcos said.
Marcos said the country should have learned how to improve its capability to mitigate the effects of disasters brought about by climate change in the aftermath of Super Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda,’’ which killed more than 6,000 people and devastated Eastern Visayas in November 2013.
“We know what those lessons are, the challenge is how to implement them,” Marcos said.
“No matter what agreement will be reached in the Paris summit we can no longer ignore the reality that we will be facing stronger typhoons, massive flooding, landslides and other natural disasters as a result of climate change. The prudent thing to do now is step up our preparedness,” Marcos said.
“We have to take a proactive approach. We are saying, this is what is going to happen. Let’s get ahead of it.
COP21, which began in Paris Monday aims to unite some 150 nations for a single agreement tackling climate change by capping the rate of global warming at 2 degrees Celsius—compared to the current 2.5 to 3.76 degrees Celsius.
Marcos urged local governments to adopt a pre-emptive evacuation system in disaster-prone areas at the onset of the typhoons and heavy rains while the national government should build and or clearly identify disaster-resilient evacuation centers.
Marcos said the government should also speed up the implementation of the law on the modernization of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and continue to tap the capability of the military in rescue and relief operations due to its expertise in logistics in the distribution of relief goods and materials to disaster-stricken areas.
Aquino arrived in Paris at 6:04 p.m. Sunday (1:04 a.m. Monday in Manila) for a two-day working visit highlighted by his participation in COP21.
On Monday, President Aquino was to join over a hundred heads of state and government at the leaders’ event of COP21 to further discuss climate change mitigation proposals, hoping they would see each other eye to eye this time around.
“This gathering in Paris is a good opportunity to move forward and reiterate the importance of unity on climate change,” President Aquino said in his departure statement.
President Aquino will lead the Climate Vulnerable Forum on behalf of other developing countries most affected by frequent and intense natural disasters due to climate change.
COP21 runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 amid heightened security across the French capital in the wake of the deadly Paris terrorist attacks that killed more than 100 people on Nov. 13.
Apart from his speaking engagements, the President is also set to meet with French, Japanese, and Irish companies during his working visit.
He is also expected to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Bases Conversion Development Authority and the French organization, Vivapolis, for the development of the Green City project in Clark, Pampanga
President Aquino will wrap up his official activities in the French capital by Tuesday morning (Dec. 1) before moving to Rome, Italy for a Filipino community event and to meet with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella.
In the days that follow, President Aquino will be in Vatican City for a reciprocal visit to Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace, with climate change also expected to figure prominently in their discussion.
Pope Francis has recently issued an encyclical regarding his concerns on climate change especially as it affects the poorer sectors of the world population. He has also spoken about violent extremism and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.