Legarda Seeks House Inquiry on Ulysses Floods, Enforcement of Environment and Climate Laws

November 18, 2020

House Deputy Speaker and Lone District of Antique Representative Loren Legarda today filed Resolution No. 1363 at the House of Representatives directing the House Subcommittee on the New Normal to conduct an inquiry on the massive flooding caused by typhoon Ulysses in relation to the enforcement of environmental, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and disaster risk reduction and management laws by government agencies and local government units (LGUs).

The resolution also seeks a review on protocols followed by dam operators to ensure that measures are adjusted to climate risk scenarios, including pre-emptive safe discharge of water, and linked to effective early warning systems for communities at risk of floods down to the last mile, in order to prevent loss of lives, properties, and livelihoods.

Legarda aims to recommend stronger policy measures that will help avert future loss and damage and ensure sustainable and resilient recovery, in light of the escalating climate-related disaster risks, compounded by factors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the resolution, Legarda stated that “the massive loss and damage of the Philippines in October to November this year from back-to-back typhoons and weather disturbances, and from other extreme weather events that wreaked havoc in the country in recent years, shows that climate change is a clear and present threat to the country’s poverty reduction and other sustainable development goals.”

The resolution urges national government agencies and local government units to promptly mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in their development, investment, and land use planning.

Legarda stressed that poor drainage systems and garbage disposal aggravate the impacts of the typhoons.

Through this resolution, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and LGUs are recommended to regularly declog canals, roadside ditches, and drains. It also suggests that traditional flood mitigation projects, such as river dredging, dike construction, and tree planting upstream, should be supplemented by natural flood intervention programs, such as river and floodplain restoration.

It also mandates the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to determine areas for improvement of its capability and the agility of its systems for climate observation and projection, weather forecasting, and real-time climate information dissemination to dam operators, national government agencies, LGUs, academe, and research institutions; and translate scientific climate information into more relatable messages of potential impacts for more effective risk communication.

LGUs are also encouraged to have a landscape and ecosystem-based comprehensive development and land use planning informed by geohazard maps and climate and disaster risk assessments. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Mines and Geosciences Bureau, is mandated to ensure that geohazard maps are updated to take into account current and projected climate hazards and are well-understood by LGUs, and provide basis to consider measures to “protect, retreat, or accommodate” based on assessment of risk.

“Despite the enactment of landmark policies on the environment, climate change, and disaster risk reduction and management, there is still continued decline of the state of the environment. Challenges arising from poor urban governance, vulnerable rural livelihoods, and ecosystems decline drive disaster risks and poverty in the context of climate change and cause loss and suffering for millions of Filipinos,” Legarda emphasized. ###