Legarda Shares PHL’s Journey to Climate Awareness at East Asia Summit

March 2, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda shared the Philippines’ “long and arduous journey” towards policies and action on climate adaptation and disaster resilience at the recent East Asia Summit Climate Change Adaptation Workshop organized by the Australian Government.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that past disasters of grave magnitude exposed the need to build the resilience of Philippine communities.


“Since my first term in 1998 in the Senate, my advocacy has been consistent and clear – protect our environment, adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts.  It has never been an easy task as people viewed climate change then as an abstract issue best reserved for experts and the scientists,” she explained.


“It had to take typhoon Ondoy for Filipinos to realize that climate change is not just a scientific and environmental issue, but an all encompassing threat to us, our aspirations, and to future generations. The massive loss of lives and the inundation of Metro Manila opened the eyes of the government and the public that climate change is no longer a threat, but a challenge we all need to take seriously,” she added.


It was in 2008 when the Senate Committee on Climate Change, through a resolution filed by Legarda, was formed. In 2009, less than 30 days after Ondoy, the Climate Change Act, which mainstreams climate change adaptation in various phases of policy formulation, was passed; and in 2010, the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act was enacted.

“Along with the passage of important laws on climate change, appropriations for climate change programs have been increasing at an average of 26 percent yearly since 2009. The enacted budget of 2014 provides more funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in disaster-stricken areas. The amount of 13 billion pesos has been allocated for the Calamity Fund, which is now known as the NDRRM Fund,” Legarda said.


“Given these resources, albeit limited, we should build better, stronger, and using the best standards in light of the natural and man-made hazards we face today. In light of this need, I am pushing for an environmental audit that will measure the level of compliance with the country’s environmental laws. I also call on our officials, community members, and our partners to lead disaster resiliency efforts,” she added.


Legarda emphasized that vulnerabilities can be addressed through the upgrading and enforcement of building standards, risk-sensitive urban planning and investment, stronger social protection, promoting measures that advance economic and business resilience, and engaging communities in efforts to achieve resilience.


“We should all remember that poverty breeds disaster vulnerability. Those who have less in life are faced with the greatest risks. Thus, as disasters become more prevalent, the greater is the responsibility of government to extend social protection to the country’s poor. Disaster risk reduction is social justice in action. Moreover, the disasters that we have experienced, along with our shared memory of death, loss and survival, should drive us to build a resilient future and a safer Earth,” Legarda concluded.