Not Budget As Usual, Legarda Vows To Make 2016 Nat’l Budget Climate-Adaptive, Disaster-Resilient, Risk-Sensitive

October 19, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the proposed 2016 national budget worth P3.002 Trillion will be different from previous years as she is working to make it a budget that promotes climate-adaptive, disaster-resilient, risk-sensitive and sustainable development.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change, said, “We can no longer deny the fact that we are constantly faced with the threats of disasters caused by environmental degradation and natural hazards intensified by the warming climate. What is more lamentable is that disasters are major economic setbacks if we fail to address our vulnerability and reduce the risks. Our own socio-economic agency, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), admits that sustainable development cannot be achieved if we do not address climate change and its impacts.”


“We recall Ondoy and Pepeng which caused damages and losses equivalent to 2.7% of our GDP; while losses due to Yolanda were equivalent to 5% of our GDP. We need billions to rehabilitate damaged communities. These are resources that we could have used instead for education or health care. We say that Congress has the power of the purse and we will use that power to make our economy and communities resilient and sustainable,” she stressed.


In line with this, Legarda will include provisions in the proposed 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA) that will strengthen disaster risk reduction and management programs of the government.


“During the budget hearings, I explored how our agencies of government can contribute to reducing disaster and climate risks. I learned so many things, which we will incorporate in the GAA. For example, it cannot be building as usual. We should make all public infrastructure earthquake- and wind-resilient to withstand the levels predicted by climatologists,” said Legarda.


“We cannot always use school buildings as evacuation centers. We need to earmark funds for evacuation centers to be built by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). All roads, buildings, hospitals and schools must be planned and built or retrofitted according to worst predicted strength of natural hazards,” she added.


The Senator said that evacuation centers should be built on safe areas, avoiding hazard-prone areas as seen in the geohazard maps, and using green design, including a water catchment facility.


Legarda also said that the government should invest on natural buffers against natural hazards not only because these are cheaper but also for environmental protection.


“In our reforestation efforts, we need to look at how trees can be used to defend communities from natural hazards. We do not need to spend on cement and other man-made storm barriers because mangroves are natural buffers against storm surge and tsunami, bamboos in the riverbanks are good buffers for floods and storms, coconut trees make good wind breakers, and coco coir can be used instead of cement for riprap,” she explained.


Meanwhile, as part of biodiversity conservation, the budget for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) will include funds for the mapping and inventory of biodiversity areas including flora and fauna. Biodiversity protection should be done not only by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) but also by other agencies and local government units (LGUs).


“Faced with the threats of climate change, extreme weather events are now the new normal, so we cannot have a budget as usual. We need a budget that not only responds to the basic needs of our citizens but also proactively addresses the risks that threaten the very basic needs we aim to provide our people. We will have a budget that reduces and manages existing risks and prevents the creation of new risks,” Legarda concluded.