Monday, November 16, 2009

SLL Statement on the Disqualification of AngLadlad Party for the 2010 Elections

As citizen and Senator of the Republic, I question the recent rejection of AngLadlad Party to be a duly registered sectoral party by the Commission on Elections(COMELEC) because of allegations of ‘immorality.’ TheComelec invoked passages from the Holy Bible and the sacred Qu’ran to justify their decision on Ang Ladlad’s petition for party registration.


The Republic of the Philippines is a secular state, and as such, we must ensure the clear separation of church and state in our civil and political affairs, as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, Article II, Section 6. Invoking justifications from sacred texts should not stand in the way of our secular and liberal democratic principles and the rights for political representation of all well-meaning Filipino citizens.

Every Filipino, regardless of sexual orientation, can exercise the fundamental right to be represented in the country’s political affairs, including the right to run for public office as political parties and individuals, and to present their platform to the Filipino electorate. There should be no room for discrimination and bigotry against any group representing gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation from within the ranks of our government.

We are now at a historic time when nation after nation hasbegun to decisively dismantle the barriers of the past – such as those that denied groups and individualsfrom being rightfully considered as equals. Many of these barriers were premised on differences based on gender, race and sexual orientation. While more and more countries have been embracing deserving homosexuals asstate leaders (e.g., Iceland ), as ministers (e.g., France), and as regular members of their armed forces (e.g., USA ), by its recent decision, our COMELEC isdangerouslyinstitutionalizing social exclusion and intolerance, and degradinga party like AngLadlad as political pariah.

A fair and honest election, fundamentally presupposes that every legal individual and party group aspiring for public office should be treated with respect, without bias, and with equality, irrespective of their religion, race, ethnicity, class and sexual orientation.

Loren issues debate challenge on ‘apocalyptic’ climate change

Senator Loren Legarda yesterday challenged presidential and vice presidential candidates in next year’s elections to a debate on their environmental platforms and “on what they intend to do to address the apocalyptic effects of climate change.”


Loren warned that climate change threatens the very survival of man, as can be seen from the recent natural catastrophes such as the storms and floods in the Philippines and Maldives and the earthquakes in Indonesia.

“Thus, no candidate for 2010 cannot be without a platform and clear-cut solutions to environmental problems,” said the chair of the Senate Oversight Committee on Climate Change who is running for vice president.

Loren said that a candidate who has no platform of government dealing with environmental issues “has no right to lead.”

“Only 19 percent of our forest cover remains, resulting to erosion of about 50 percent of our mountains’ top soil. Where does the top soil goes? It buries villages at the foot of mountains while contributing to the siltation of our river systems,” she said.

The United Nations Champion for Climate Change Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction for the Asia-Pacific region, Loren said that the loss of the country’s forest cover results to animals losing their habitats, ultimately affecting forest biodiversity or the number of species thriving in any given area.

She said that with mountains being left bare of trees, low-lying communities are left to the mercy of cascading floodwater and landslides, citing as example the province or Rizal which went underwater during the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy.

Ondoy dumped on Metro Manila a record 340 milliliters of water in a few hours, the equivalent of the average total rainfall for the month, swamping the province of Rizal, and the cities of Marikina and Pasig, among others.

Loren lamented that the pollution of inland waters has been so wanton that, at present, only 36 percent of the country’s river systems can be used as water source, in itself a looming crisis as the supply of potable water diminishes.

The senator explained that global warming increases water evaporation and the volume of rainfall, even as it raises sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps.

She echoed the warning of ecological experts that a rise by one meter in sea levels would result to the flooding of 28 of the about 80 provinces of the country.

Loren said that environmental disasters have the potential of becoming humanitarian crises, especially when a nation’s leaders do not prioritize climate change mitigation and disaster risk-reduction in their platforms and policies.

Source: http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1258349375.html

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Greening of the Philippines: Issues and Concerns 9th Philippine Society for the Study of Nature Iligan City, November 14, 2009 - SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA

(GREETINGS)


I think we all agree that after Ondoy and Pepeng, Filipinos are not the same anymore. The people are more than ever conscious of the impact of climate change. We all have our own stories from our families, if not from our own experience with Ondoy or Pepeng. The lesson is simple. If we do not do protect the environment, our lives will just get harder and harder as weather conditions get more erratic and more extreme.

We have seen what happened when the floods came. Communities that used to be impervious to floodwaters were inundated. Months after Ondoy and Pepeng, we still see the effects on the lakeshore municipalities of Laguna. Water is claiming the land that used to accommodate long-standing communities.

Let us examine what the government has done in the past.

From 2005 to 2009, little progress was made in controlling environmental and natural resource degradation despite comprehensive legal and regulatory regime for environmental and natural resources management and the use of some advanced strategies.

There are new environmental challenges that have emerged from new development directions pursued by the government such as its active promotion of mining, agribusiness and bio-fuels production.

There is also devolution of responsibilities to local governments, but without additional financial resources.

The public resources for conservation and protection is still very low.

Climate change has gained recognition in policy circles, although this interest has not yet been sufficiently translated into actions.

At present, an estimated 19% of the country's land area remains forested. Deforestation has made many poor communities more vulnerable to natural calamities such as landslides.

Soil erosion has accelerated dramatically with an estimated loss of 50% of the fertile top layer in the last 10 years.

Excavation, dredging, and coastal conversion for coastal zone development damage the marine environment, especially to coral reefs, mangroves, and sea-grasses.

Only about 36% of the country’s river systems are classified as sources of public water supply.

The water resource concerns include recurring seasonal problem of access to clean water in many areas, water pollution, wasteful, inefficient water use, saltwater intrusion, pipe leaks, illegal connections, and continued denudation of forest cover in watersheds.

Agriculture encroachment into forestlands continues to threaten the stability of the whole forest ecosystem including the watershed areas.

While there are positive trends in efforts to curb illegal logging, provide better watershed and promote the use of renewable energy sources, these are offset by the pressure of overpopulation.

The Philippines has a 2.3% annual population growth rate and the projected total population is expected to reach 91 million. There is rapid urbanization and poor environmental governance and corruption.

There are likewise new challenges such as the promotion of bio-fuels and agribusiness and mining policies that may aggravate the condition of natural resources.

Because of overpopulation, the demand for water also rises. At least 30 million Filipinos have no access to potable water through water supply and distribution operations. Water demand nationwide is expected to grow from 43 million cubic meters per year in 2000 to 88 million cubic meters by 2025.

While programs and projects to make the Philippines more green are necessary, the work to mitigate, if not arrest climate change requires an all-encompassing effort.

We need to change our over-all ways. Many of our actions have been inappropriate and are doomed to failure because they are founded on the traditional notion that economic activities alone matter for development.

I have called for a new development thinking, a more holistic development philosophy. This kind of development is founded on sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, ecosystems protection, cultural resilience, and good governance, all of which must be adopted by world leaders in order to address growing disaster risks.

The Climate Change Act of 2009, a bill that I have authored in the Senate, is one of laws that are cognizant of the need to come up with new adaptation needs and strategies across various sectors and themes.

This law ensures the mainstreaming of climate change in various phases of policy formulation, development plans, poverty reduction strategies and other development tools and techniques by all government agencies.

It provides a Climate Change Commission with the President as the chairperson, three Commissioners who are experts in climate change by virtue of their training and experience.

There is also an advisory board, the Secretaries of different government agencies, the President of the League of Cities, Municipalities and Barangay, and representatives from the academe, business sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society.

The commission will ensure the mainstreaming of climate change in synergy with disaster risk reduction into the national, sectoral and local development plans and programs.

The Philippine Strategic Framework on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and the Philippine Climate Change Adaptation Action Agenda will serve as the basis for the program for climate change planning, research and development, extension and monitoring of activities on climate change.

In line with the framework and action agenda, each local government unit shall formulate its own local climate change action plan.

Local government units will be in the frontline in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas.

Meanwhile, the national government shall extend technical and financial assistance to local government units for the accomplishment of their climate change action plans. They can also appropriate and use their funds from their Internal Revenue Allotment to implement their local plans.

I would like to mention another one of my proposals in the Senate. This is the Disaster Risk Reduction, Management, and Recovery Bill, which was recently passed in the Senate on third reading.

The bill seeks to formulate a comprehensive all-hazards, multi-sectoral, inter-agency, and community-based approach to disaster risk reduction, management and recovery through the formulation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Recovery Framework.

The sad reality is that Climate change will continue to put additional stress on already heavily stressed watersheds, which in turn will affect downstream and coastal areas.

As the environment is exacerbated by population growth, poverty, weak policies, deforestation, urbanization and industrialization, we can expect to experience more extreme weather events, temperature rise, and excessive rainfall.

Climate change may also exacerbate water pollution and water stress due to increasing demand from population growth and economic development.

Moreover, risks on sea level rise and saltwater intrusion to groundwater may increase significantly.

What else must be done? We need policy changes in the allocation of resources, food production, livelihoods, and land use.

There is a need to clarify rules governing roles of various stakeholders in the water sector.

Decentralization and building capacity of local agencies must be supported. Watershed related research and technology development must be prioritized.

Water use efficiency must be enhanced by improving technologies and crop varieties, reducing of transmission losses thru regular maintenance of system, monitoring and auditing of irrigation systems performance, and improving water pricing and cost recovery.

For demand management, public education programs, recycling, and economic valuation of water must be implemented.

Planning and decision making must be improved through enhancing data collection and management, gathering of more aggressive information, technology generation, mainstreaming of water resource conservation in the national and local development planning, and formulating watershed-based local development planning.

Through watershed-based local development planning, the interlinked concerns on climate change, poverty, biodiversity, and water may be addressed.

Clearly, the work to stop climate change does not end in policy. We must practice what we preach. There is the constant need to follow through in implementation.

As early as 1998, I have established Luntiang Pilipinas as a nationwide urban forestry program, to promote public awareness on various environmental issues and to enjoin multi-sectoral participation in helping address such concerns.

Ten years after, Luntiang Pilipinas remains committed in doing its share in saving the environment, with the launch of 10@10: The 10 Million Trees Campaign.

The latest project is an online campaign to plant 10 million trees to encourage the “valuable contribution of individuals, private corporations and businesses, and national and local government agencies in planting 10 million trees by year 2011.

Those who want to participate can enter pledges to plant as many trees as they can online through www.luntiangpilipinas.com.ph.

Those who made pledges must actually plant the trees. Those who were responsible for the actual tree planting at their chosen locations are encouraged to send in photos or videos to document their activities.

Registered pledges are acknowledged in the form of a ‘pledge of commitment card’ to be issued in the participant’s name.

These pledge cards also serve as discount cards in selected establishments, courtesy of Luntiang Pilipinas merchant partners.

Let me tell you a story about how a grandson spent in just ten days what took his grandfather 82 years to accumulate, to show how we, as a people, intend to destroy what took billions of years to form, unless we change our mindset and undertake a paradigm shift on the environment.

A grandfather died intestate and left his only grandson 100 million pesos as inheritance.

Prior to his death, he told his grandson to spend only the income of his inheritance and preserve the capital of P100 million.

However, contrary to his grandfather's wishes, the grandson gambled and spent 10 million a day on losses. Thus, by the end of the tenth day, the whole inheritance was gone.

But instead of treating this as a loss, the grandson asked that the money he spent for gambling be reported by his accountant as losses that are allowable deductions on his gross income.

This story demonstrates how we treat the environment. The Earth has taken 4.5 billion years to put together; Man, 1 million years, and Civilization, 6,000-7,000 years.

Ladies and gentlemen, the state of the Philippine environment has deteriorated from a gloomy silent spring into the next stage, an apocalyptic one. All around us we are witnessing the birth of death, the refusal of life forms to flourish and to thrive, the black curtains that hang over former enclaves of bio-diversity.

Only after the last tree has been felled, the last river poisoned, and the last fish caught, will man know that he cannot eat money.

We have to reverse the onslaught to life, to usher in an environmental springtime, the surge of new life forms, the explosion of forested mountains, clean air, clear rivers and bountiful seas.

Let it be said that in our time and during our watch, while gifted with intelligence and insight, with privilege and position, with the wealth of wisdom, and with the freedom and power of the human will, let it be said that we did our share.

And maybe, just maybe, we will make a little difference.

Thank you very much and good afternoon.

Source: http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1258167241.html

Loren Warns Of Environmental Apocalypse

ILIGAN CITY, Nov. 14 – Sen. Loren Legarda today warned of an environmental apocalypse in the Philippines unless the government and people act determinedly to reverse the current environmental deterioration.


Addressing a conference of the Philippine Society for the Study of Nature in this city, Loren said that “the state of the Philippine environment has deteriorated from a silent spring into the next stage, an apocalyptic one.

“All around us we are witnessing the birth of death, the refusal of life forms to flourish and to thrive, the black curtains that hang over former enclaves of bio-diversity.

She warned that “Only after the last tree has been felled, the last river poisoned, and the last fish caught, will man know that he cannot eat money.

“We have to reverse the onslaught to life, to usher in an environmental springtime, the surge of new life forms, the resurrection of forested mountains, clean air, clear rivers and bountiful seas.”

During the conference, Loren received a “Kalikasan award” from the society for her “valuable efforts” in saving and promoting the environment. For the past many years, Loren had planted over two million trees in the country through her foundation, Luntiang Pilipinas.

The foremost advocate of a green environment in the country, Loren declared that climate change has amplified the threat of catastrophic disasters arising from the steady deterioration of the environment in the Philippines over the past many years.

“We have seen what happened when the floods came. Communities that used to be impervious to floodwaters were inundated. Months after Ondoy and Pepeng, we still see the effects on the lakeshore municipalities of Laguna,” said Loren, who is the UN regional champion for climate change adaptation in Asia-Pacific, and chair of the Senate committee on climate change.
In describing the state of the Philippine environment, Loren pointed out that only 19 percent of the Philippines land area remain forested, while erosion has wiped away 50 percent of the soil’s fertile top layer in just over 10 years.

“Excavation, dredging, and coastal conversion for coastal zone development damage the marine environment, especially to coral reefs, mangroves, and sea-grasses.

“Only about 36% of the country’s river systems are classified as sources of public water supply.

“Agriculture encroachment into forestlands continues to threaten the stability of the whole forest ecosystem including the watershed areas.

“The Philippines has a 2.3% annual population growth rate and the projected total population is expected to reach 91 million. There is rapid urbanization and poor environmental governance and corruption.

“Because of overpopulation, the demand for water also rises. At least 30 million Filipinos have no access to potable water through water supply and distribution operations. Water demand nationwide is expected to grow from 43 million cubic meters per year in 2000 to 88 million cubic meters by 2025.”

While new legislation like the Climate Change Act, which she sponsored, have been passed, said Loren, the efforts to revert the trend would fail without total cooperation between government and people.

She called “for a new development thinking, a more holistic development philosophy. .. founded on sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, ecosystems protection, cultural resilience, and good governance”.

The Philippine Strategic Framework on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and the Philippine Climate Change Adaptation Action Agenda would serve as the basis for the program for climate change planning, research and development, extension and monitoring of activities on climate change.

“In line with the framework and action agenda, each local government unit shall formulate its own local climate change action plan. Local government units will be in the frontline in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas.

“Meanwhile, the national government shall extend technical and financial assistance to local government units for the accomplishment of their climate change action plans. They can also appropriate and use their funds from their Internal Revenue Allotment to implement their local plans."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Loren Urges More Gov't Support For Vaccination

Sen. Loren Legarda today (Nov. 12) called on the national government to provide more support for the national immunization program and partner with the private sector in order to ensure a healthy citizenry.


Addressing the National Immunization Conference at the Hyatt Hotel, Manila, Loren stressed that preventive measures are more effective and less expensive in ensuring health than curative measures.

“When it comes to vaccination and immunization, it cannot be reiterated enough that vaccines are the very foundation of public health providing inexpensive, safe, and life-long protection,” said Loren, who is the chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

However, Loren deplored, because of an inadequate budget the government had never had enough resources for the vaccination of the entire citizenry. For the year 2010, the proposed P33.7 billion budget for the Department of Health is a mere 2.2 percent of the total national budget, she said.

“That is just a drop in the bucket for the health needs of our people,” she stressed.

Loren noted that many kinds of diseases and strains of viruses have sprouted lately, like the A-H1N1. “Experts say it has the potential of replicating the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 which killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people and which has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history.”

She also said that while many new vaccines are available now and even more will be ready over the next years, these new vaccines have not been included in the national immunization program. Another obstacle is the lack of knowledge of how much illness, disability and death the pathogen causes.

“Many vaccines are not part of the National Immunization Program for the usual reason that our government cannot afford, or at least it claims to be unable to afford, the addition of vaccines,” Loren lamented.

”In the meantime, we cannot let our children be stricken with preventable diseases that have lifelong consequences ranging from hearing loss and speech defects to more severe ones such as brain abscess and meningitis. “

She declared that the best solution to the problem of lack of resources is the partnership between the private and the public sectors. “The private sector is an ideal partner because they have the funding and facility for research while the public sector, particularly institutions such as the Philippine General Hospital, is home to skilled, intelligent and most of all, dedicated health professionals and scientists who are passionate about serving the people. “

She urged the health sector to constantly get in touch with the leaders in government to acquaint them with their needs to ensure a healthy citizenry. For her part, as a legislator, she assured the doctors, nurses, health workers and members of the health industry of her support for their programs and activities.

Source: http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1258007104.html

Senator Loren Legarda: National Immunization Conference The Ballroom, Hyatt Hotel Manila November 12, 2009

(GREETINGS)


I am honored to be with you once again. I had several occasions before to express my gratitude to our country’s leading doctors, nurses, paramedical workers, private and public health officials, NGOs, media and other health workers for you are the ones in the forefront in defending our people against sicknesses and death.

Preventive rather than curative: that has always been my preference when we speak about health. And I am glad that the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, a leading organization that seeks to protect and advocate for the promotion of vaccination as essential to disease prevention, has been our constant partner in propounding the wisdom of the preventive approach in protecting the health of our people.

The government has countless programs, but I think one stands out as vital for it could determine the state of health of our children and of all our citizenry. It could determine the future of our nation. I am referring to the National Immunization Program. As reflected in the theme for this year’s conference, “Looking Back…Moving Forward 10 years of Immunizing for…Life”, this year gives us an opportunity to reflect on our efforts in vaccination and immunization.
When it comes to vaccination and immunization, it cannot be reiterated enough that vaccines are the very foundation of public health providing inexpensive, safe, and life-long protection.

And as in any government program, we must assess the challenges of implementation, the role of partnership to better the implementation, and the introduction of new vaccines in order to make our efforts produce more positive impacts for our citizens.

Through a decade of holding the Philippine National Immunization Conference, many of you here today already know the history of immunization and vaccination programs in our country. Those years are years where our people, the poorest of them, look up to the government for the protection of their health.

Ladies and gentlemen, I know that you are fully aware that the history of vaccination and immunization in our country could also be characterized as a history of frustrations and disappointments. Successive budget allocations for health over the past years show that the government has never had enough resources for the vaccination of the entire citizenry. For the year 2010, the P33.7 billion proposed budget for the DOH is a mere 2.2 percent of the total government budget. That is just a drop in the bucket for the health needs of our people.

One such health need is vaccination and immunization. These are the best methods of safeguarding health and unless diseases stopped spreading and mutating, we cannot do without administering vaccination and immunization to our people.

Many kinds of diseases and strains of viruses have sprouted lately. Some have mutated into more deadly ones. Take the A-H1N1 as an example. Experts say it has the potential of replicating the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 which killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people and which has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history (Source: Stanford University, http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/).
Some diseases, even potential pandemics like A-H1N1, need not even have to be a cause of worry. There are ways to prevent the spread of the flu; all we need is just the addition of one more shot in our National Immunization Program. While governments are busy stocking up on medicine, would it not be better to immunize our citizens against the sickness and from its life-threatening complications?

Many new vaccines are available now and even more will be ready over the next years. They include vaccines for diseases that are not now immunized against, improvements to existing vaccines, and combination vaccines. These new vaccines could save millions of Filipino lives a year.
Unfortunately, these new vaccines have not been included in our national immunization program, despite immunization being among the most cost-effective health interventions. Policy-makers may not consider a vaccine because of cost, even though an expensive vaccine may be more cost-effective than other government expense. Another obstacle is the lack of knowledge of how much illness, disability and death the pathogen causes.

Many vaccines are not part of the National Immunization Program for the usual reason that our government cannot afford, or at least it claims to be unable to afford, the addition of vaccines. It is important to keep in our minds that vaccines are worthless if not used.

In the meantime, we cannot let our children be stricken with preventable diseases that have lifelong consequences ranging from hearing loss and speech defects to more severe ones such as brain abscess and meningitis.

As I look at the situation from a legislator’s point of view, the best solution to the problem of lack of resources is the partnership between the private and the public sectors. The private sector is an ideal partner because they have the funding and facility for research while the public sector, particularly institutions such as the Philippine General Hospital, is home to skilled, intelligent and most of all, dedicated health professionals and scientists who are passionate about serving the people.

Based on the program, I am supposed to speak on vaccines and health politics in our country. To my mind, this sort of politics is as much a lack of knowledge as differences in beliefs and priorities.

A rational decision on vaccines and immunization program requires substantial information on cost accounting, safety and effectiveness, and impact. The decision to add a new vaccine to an immunization program is also often influenced by social values, perceptions, and political concerns and is not just a technical one. Policy makers would be able to make better decisions on new vaccines by clarifying the technical and operational issues through a series of technical questions.

But the issues posed by vaccination could not be reduced to mere technicalities. Ultimately, these are matters of life and death for our people. The health outcomes prevented by a vaccine cannot be quantified for these involve days of illness, time spent in hospitals, disabilities and deaths.

Doctors, nurses, health workers, and members of the health industry, once again, let me urge you to focus your sights on our common aspiration: the elimination of sickness and death caused by vaccine-preventable diseases through the development of strong, sustainable national immunization programs capable of delivering high quality vaccines in a safe and effective way to our children and even adults who need them.

I urge you to continue approaching your leaders, your legislators and present them your proposals in order for us to come up with a successful National Immunization Program.

On my part, rest assured that I have my keen eyes on the budget of the Department of Health at the Senate in my capacity as the Chairperson of the Committee on Health and Demography. And should it be necessary, I will not hesitate to propose amendments to it at the appropriate time so that it could be more responsive to the needs of our people.

Thank you very much.

Source: http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1258006948.html

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Legarda Urges Protection, Revival Of Displaced Pinoys

DATU PIANG, Maguindanao (ARMM) – Senator Loren B. Legarda has once again called on the national government, various NGOs and the private sector to extend assistance to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country. Legarda sought educational, medical and livelihood development assistance for IDPs, particularly those caught between the recent tensions in Mindanao.


Legarda also urged the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to “faithfully observe their truce and to facilitate their peace talks in order to establish permanent peace in
Mindanao. We must stop this fighting among brothers and sisters,” she pleaded.

More than 2.5 million people have been displaced by armed conflict in the
Philippines since 2000, the vast majority in Mindanao, where 62,000 families (or 370,000 persons) are displaced; most of them in Maguindanao Province. Another 3,800 families are reported to be still displaced in Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat Provinces; and 260 families in Lanao del Norte Province.

The
Philippines ranked first in the number of IDPs worldwide by registering 600,000 evacuees in 2008, according to Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), a Geneva-based body monitoring conflict-induced internal displacement. Tension between the MILF and government forces has caused the displacement of more than 950,000 persons since early August 2008.

Legarda stressed that the
Philippines is a signatory to both the 1949 Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and the 1977 Additional Protocol to the [1949] Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts. As such, she added, “we must continually

IDPs are persons or groups who have been forced to leave their homes to avoid the effects of armed conflict, violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters. Vulnerable groups like children, the elderly or women experience profound psychosocial distress related to displacement, and the removal from sources of income and livelihood may add to physical and psychosocial vulnerability for displaced people. Schooling for children and adolescents may be disrupted.

Conditions of internal displacement may raise suspicions of or lead to abuse by armed combatants, or other parties to conflict. At worse IDPs may lack identity documents essential to receiving benefits or legal recognition; in some cases, fearing persecution, displaced persons have sometimes got rid of such documents.

“Although these IDPs would simply want to receive humanitarian aid to recover from the trauma of the experience, we as a nation are morally obliged to extend assistance that would institute stable rules that protect them from violence, end any ensuing conflict in their area and rehabilitate them back to their normal.

Source:
http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1257924176.html

Loren appeals for displaced persons

Senator Loren B. Legarda has once again called on the national government, various NGOs, and the private sector to extend assistance to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country.

Legarda also sought educational, medical and livelihood development assistance for IDPs, particularly those caught between the recent tensions in Mindanao.

She also urged the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to “faithfully observe their truce and to facilitate their peace talks in order to establish permanent peace in Mindanao. We must stop this fighting among brothers and sisters,” she pleaded.

More than 2.5 million people have been displaced by armed conflict in the Philippines since 2000, the vast majority in Mindanao, where 62,000 families (or 370,000 persons) are displaced; most of them in Maguindanao Province. Another 3,800 families are reported to be still displaced in Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat Provinces; and 260 families in Lanao del Norte Province.

The Philippines ranked first in the number of IDPs worldwide by registering 600,000 evacuees in 2008, according to Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), a Geneva-based body monitoring conflict-induced internal displacement. Tension between the MILF and government forces has caused the displacement of more than 950,000 persons since early August, 2008.

Legarda stressed that the Philippines is a signatory to both the 1949 Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and the 1977 Additional Protocol to the [1949] Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts.

DPs are persons or groups who have been forced to leave their homes to avoid the effects of armed conflict, violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters.

Vulnerable groups like children, the elderly or women experience profound psychosocial distress related to displacement, and the removal from sources of income and livelihood may add to physical and psychosocial vulnerability for displaced people. Schooling for children and adolescents may be disrupted.

Source:
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/229072/loren-appeals-displaced-persons

Loren: Implement Climate Change Act nationwide, now!

ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat (Nov. 11) –Senator Loren Legarda today urged the immediate implementation nationwide of the 2009 Climate Change Act, including IN THOSE areas in Mindanao threatened by natural disasters.


The chair of the Senate Climate Change Oversight Committee, Loren issued the statement in keynoting the National Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Watershed Context organized by the Philippine Watershed Management Coalition.

The senator stressed that the conference’s theme highlights the multifarious environmental challenges the country is facing because of climate change.

“One such challenge is on our watersheds. With climate change, exacerbated poverty, weak policies, deforestation, urbanization and industrialization, extreme whether events, temperature rise and excessive rainfall are expected to happen,” said Loren.

“Monsoon rains alone account for more than 60 percent of the total rainfall in the country and is associated with high intensity rains which are responsible for most of the soil erosion and sedimentation problems in the watershed. These cause changes in our land cover and water quantity, quality and demand.”

While typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi had raised calls for the immediate implementation of the recently enacted Climate Change Act in Luzon, Loren said that the law must also be IMPLEMENTED immediately in many areas of the country, including Sultan Kudarat, where poverty had been aggravated by the flash floods and massive soil erosion along the riverbanks in 2008.

She said that torrential rains easily caused the thinning of the tree cover in the mountainous areas of the Allah Valley and the subsequent overflow of the Allah River, a disaster that flooded farmlands and affected the livelihoods.

“I think the lack of a comprehensive national attention and action on that disaster is one of the reasons this conference is so important. Our experts and local government leaders are on the front lines in our efforts to safeguard our country’s watersheds. With you, we can give people who are suffering the impact of climate change but have largely been unnoticed the chance to make their voices heard all the way to the national government and to various international fora.”

Principally authored by Loren, the Climate Change Act incorporates climate change concerns, measures and actions, as well as disaster-risk reduction programs into government policies, programs and budgeting.

It creates a Climate Change Commission which will oversee all climate change related measures undertaken in the country, while seeking to empower local government units (LGUs) on climate change initiatives and disaster-risk reduction, LGUs being the first responders to disasters like those resulting from strong typhoons, floods, landslides and earthquakes.

“A basic premise of this legislation is that locally-designed initiatives can provide an effective way to achieve local, national and global sustainability objectives. It is my objective to put all local governments on top of the global climate agenda and send a message to our national leaders that climate change compels no less than a nationally coordinated action,” Loren said.

“With the Climate Change Act, we have moved to adaptation plans. The theme of this conference is appropriate because it emphasizes and recognizes that a key solution to the problems being spawned by climate change is adaptation. And in the watershed context as well as in other areas necessitating climate change action, adaptation requires putting all communities at the heart of the relevant programs and policies and gathering collective action that is rooted in a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility.”

Source:
http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1257912537.html

Loren, the 'green' leader

Amid the recent outbreak of leptospirosis that killed over a hundred in several flood-stricken areas in Metro Manila and other provinces, our national and local government health officials have effectively contained the deadly disease to date. Thank God for that. Thus, I was rather bothered when I saw the photo

of Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro who waded last week in knee-deep flood in Sta.Cruz, Laguna. Hopefully, he had his boots on, behind the blue jeans he was wearing.

The other day, it was the turn of Sen. Loren Legarda who conducted her public hearing on climate change adaptation and disaster mitigation in the still flooded Sta. Cruz, Laguna. But in Loren’s case, her photo release showed she wore boots for protection.

As chairperson of the Senate Oversight Committee on Climate Change, she dramatically called for a Senate public hearing right at the flooded ricefields in Sitio Butuanan, Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Ricefields surrounding Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines and the third biggest in Southeast Asia, have been flooded for more than a month now since storm Ondoy lashed northern and central Luzon on Sept. 26.

Ondoy caused the waters of the Laguna de Bay to overflow by a historic high of 10.4 meters that left 28 towns and cities submerged in flood waters, and damaged thousands of hectares of rice crops. From the testimony of experts, it was learned that Ondoy poured some 3,300 cubic meters of rainwater on Marikina and Antipolo which should have flowed through the Napindan Channel into the Pasig River and then all the way to Manila Bay at the rate of 150 cubic meters per second.

A study released by the Asian Development Bank in 2004 stated that the Napindan Channel was initially operated by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). But its operation and control were turned over to the Metro Manila Development
Authority in 2003.

It’s now clear that the DPWH has assumed full jurisdiction as they announced the eviction of some 2,070 families of squatters (informal settlers), as we bluntly call them, out of the floodway in Napindan and in Manggahan. These families who have put up their shanties at the two floodways are being relocated for their own safety and for the general welfare of the public. The squatting problem at the floodways have been largely blamed for unduly causing the catastrophic flooding in the cities of Marikina and Pasig.

The Senate public hearing in Laguna was the second round of Loren’s climate change dialogues since this was signed into law last month. She first conducted the Senate hearing at Provident Village in Marikina City, one of the hardest hit by flashfloods when Ondoy unleashed its fury.

Speaking of Loren, The Manila Standard ran yesterday a front page main photo of her side by side with a photo release of Gibo with a catchy caption “Testing the waters.” As the presidential standard-bearer of the ruling administration Lakas-CMD-Kampi, Gibo is reportedly being paired with Loren as his possible vice presidential running mate for the May 2010 elections. After all, the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) of Loren remains coalesced with the administration of President Arroyo.

During his weekly press conference at MalacaƱang, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita who is the Lakas-CMD-Kampi president, was quoted as saying the administration is willing to welcome back Loren to return as the “prodigal daughter.” She was once a Lakas-CMD before she left the party to join NPC where she was drafted as the vice presidential running mate of the late actor, Fernando Poe Jr. in the May 2004 presidential elections.

But as history unfolded, she lost to her compadre, Vice President Noli de Castro who won as the running mate of President Arroyo under the Lakas-CMD banner. Two years after her successful Senate comeback, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) junked Loren’s election protest against Noli.

Although the PET ended their election feud, the competition between Loren and Vice President De Castro continued through the mock polls among presidentiables. Early in the game, the Vice President consistently topped the opinion surveys as the most preferred presidential candidate with Loren a near second.

However, as events are now unfolding, Loren has decided to make a second round and re-launched her vice presidential bid instead. As of today, De Castro remains undecided whether or not to run for the presidency or opt for re-election as Vice President.

As the presidential standard-bearer of the Nacionalista Party (NP) opposition Sen. Manny Villar earlier revealed he has been trying to convince Vice President De Castro to be his running mate. But apparently, their talks have not made any headway up to now. In fact, among the declared presidential candidates, Villar and Gibo are both without any vice presidential running mates as of yet.

Unlike in the United States, our election system provides for separate election for the President and the Vice President. There have been proposals in the past that the Philippines should adopt the US system where the President and the Vice President are elected as one team. But this has not gained support here.

Villar and Gibo have also one thing in common. Their respective camps are also reportedly wooing Loren to become their respective vice presidential candidate. Loren, though, is playing it to the hilt as she, too, keeps the public guessing as to who she would give her nod to.

As the designated UN advocate for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, Loren gained stature as a “green” leader.

When a person is plainly called “green,” it means he or she is still raw (not ripe yet or young). But certainly, Loren is neither raw nor young to be called “green” by this color definition. As an impassioned advocate for climate change, her “green” leadership represents the fresh color of life.

As the most sought after vice presidential running mate, Loren’s detractors are “green” with envy.

Source:
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=520820&publicationSubCategoryId=64

Loren to set example by picking litter on streets

MANILA, Philippines -- Unless the weather is stormy, Sen. Loren Legarda will be picking up litter in the streets of Metro Manila this week.

Legarda said on Sunday she was planning to pick up litter in the streets to show people that "we need not look far and wide" in looking for solution of problems to the environment.

She mentioned the Solid Waste Management law, which she authored and which provided for local government units to be responsible for the disposal of garbage in their respective backyards.

“I am going to set the example and pick up litter,'' she said in a phone interview. “There should be less talk. Let's just do things.''

The senator, who was a successful broadcast journalist before she entered politics, said she was known to be prickly about litter in her former office.

She said she would pick up candy wrappers or trash if she spotted them.

Legarda said she was very much moved with what she saw during an inspection of lakeshore towns in
Laguna Lake last Saturday.

“It was pitiful and an eye opener,” she said as she recalled seeing for instance dead rats drifting in the still flooded waters of poor communities she visited during the weekend.

Legarda visited Lupang Arenda, a reclaimed former dumpsite situated in the Taytay-Pasig border, and which experts recently said was in danger of being swallowed up along with some 6,000 families living there should an earthquake happen there.

The land there was prone to liquefaction and experts said the former dumpsite could suffer the fate of a community in Dagupan during the 1991 earthquake where buildings and other structures collapsed.

“These are really subhuman conditions and we should really get them out of there,” Legarda said.

Source:
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20091018-230778/Loren-to-set-example-by-picking-litter-on-streets

NPC’s Joan of Arc in search of a Dauphin

In an earlier column, I wrote that self-declared vice-presidential candidate Loren Legarda, descending upon what looked like a wake of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, rallied its members after their erstwhile presidential candidate Francis Escudero deserted them. Loren roused the troops a la Joan of Arc, promising to “lead you to victory.” I recounted the remark of a party elder, former Gov. Tomas Joson, as he watched the white-shirted lady senator sounding the clarion call to battle, “Yan ang tunay na lalaki.”

Now Joan of Arc is in furious search of her Dauphin, for whom she would do battle in the coming months up to May 2010. If reports are to be believed, she’s choosing between NP bet Manny Villar and Lakas bet Gilbert Teodoro. Villar offers entrepreneurship and a home for every poor Filipino as the pillar of his economic platform, while Teodoro doubtless would make the reconstruction of this storm-ravaged country his main preoccupation in the succeeding years, which will be filled with fears and uncertainties over the onslaught of climate change.

Pairing Loren off with either presidential candidate would be to the latter’s advantage, as her unique brand of political machismo has apparently not been lost on voters, especially after her former political partner, Chiz Escudero, proved faint-hearted. A prominent businessman who’s a regular fixture in the dinner circuit recounted to me recently that in various polling of candidate preferences in several dinners he attended, Loren always came out ahead in the VP race. His conclusion: Hindi nakakaseguro si Mar Roxas.

Source:
http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20091110-235281/NPCs-Joan-of-Arc-in-search-of-a-Dauphin

Monday, November 9, 2009

Loren seeks JOBS and PEACE for evacuees in Mindanao

DATU PIANG, North Cotabato – Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday called on the national government to provide a “viable livelihood program” for hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who have been displaced by the armed conflict in Mindanao.

In a visit here, Loren noted that the Philippines was ranked first in the number of internally displaced persons worldwide by registering 600,000 evacuees in 2008 The ranking was made by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), a Geneva-based leading international body monitoring conflict-induced internal displacement.

Loren also called on the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to “faithfully observe their truce and to facilitate their peace talks in order to establish permanent peace in Mindanao. We must stop this fighting among brothers and sisters.”

Loren also asked the Department of Health to provide more medical assistance to the evacuees after receiving reports that many of them are suffering from diseases, arising from overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and malnutrion.

Loren said that the upsurge in fighting between the Moro Islamic Liberation Forces and the government has caused the displacement of more than 950,000 persons since early August 2008. As of the end of August 2009, based on data from the government’s National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), an estimated 66,000 families, or between 330,000 and 400,000 people, remained displaced in Mindanao.

Loren said that aside from their immediate needs for food, clothing and shelter, the evacuees desire to have jobs or to engage in livelihood activities in order that they can support themselves and their families and not be forever dependent on local and international aid.

“These evacuees from war do not want to be forever dependent upon charity. They desire to keep their dignity and secure their future by having stable employment and livelihood activities in farming, handicraft, small and medium industries, fishing and other productive activities,” said Loren.

Loren called on the government national agencies like the departments of agriculture, trade and industry, Technical Skills and Development Authority, and others to provide assistance to local governments in Mindanao to provide livelihood projects for the Mindanao war refugees.

Loren also called on the Department of Education to establish temporary schools in the evacuation centers so as not to disrupt the studies of children of school age among the evacuees.

The overwhelming majority of the displaced are located in the Autnomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, where 62,000 families or 310,000-370,000 live in evacuation centers, most of them in Maguindanao Province.

A further 3,800 families were reported to be still displaced in Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat Provinces and 260 families in Lanao del Norte Province (NDCC IDP Taskforce, 26 August 2009).

In addition to people displaced in 2008, many who had fled the 2000 and 2003 wars are still unable to return or have not found durable solutions, said Loren.

On Sora

In his fifth State of the Region Address, ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan outlined the many challenges, issues and problems facing our Muslim brothers and sisters living within the ARMM. Foremost among these, as everybody knows, are the problems of dehumanizing poverty and the unabated fighting in the region.

As one who has cultivated a deep affection for Mindanao in general, I would like to express solidarity with the aspirations and hopes of our people in ARMM, specifically on their desire for peace, equality, justice and economic prosperity.

Likewise, I would like to add my voice to the deafening clamor not only of the people of ARMM or even of Mindanao in general, but the clamor of the entire nation. I call for the renewal of the Mindanao peace process -- one that is marked by full consultation of all parties involved, one that would fully hew to the provisions of our Constitution, and, most importantly, one that would not result to the Philippines being disemboweled or the separation of any of its parts.

The five-point agenda that had been laid down by Governor Ampatuan – concerning peace and security, infrastructure, stimulating its regional economy, social services and good governance – is indeed at the crux of all the issues facing the ARMM.

For without peace and order, no economy could possibly take off; and without good governance, the people cannot expect to get the most basic of social services. Without both, any and all infrastructure within the ARMM would be mere white elephants – roads hardly used for commerce, buildings that bear silent witness to still-born industries, and farmlands that are perpetually threatened by war.

Add to these the problem of Climate Change, ARMM, like the rest of the Philippines, has its work cut out for it.

At last a candidate with a Vision! Loren Legarda tops all candidates

Loren Legarda just announced that she'll be running for the vice presidential post come 2010. Her Luneta announcement last night is better than all the other candidates running for the top post. Instead of a melodramatic speech, peppered with necropolitical imagery, Loren presented a platform.

At last! A candidate with a vision, a candidate who has the strong will to say what she truly wants to do and what she intends to fulfill should she be elected for the top post. Let me quote her "six-point must-do" Pro-People Agenda from an Inquirer report :

First, the country’s resources, including government funds, should go toward affording all Filipinos housing, sanitation, potable water, access to medicines and proper health care, education for the youth and skills training.

Second, government must recognize the contributions of overseas Filipino workers by facilitating their gainful employment, providing them ample protection against abuses and by continuously upgrading their skills and knowledge.

third, the new administration must really crack down on corruption, which wastes the country’s limited resources, destroys institutions and undermines the trust of the people and of the international community, including foreign investors.

Fourth, protection of the environment and initiation of pro-active measures to address the problem of climate change and the disasters related to it by strictly following geohazard maps in pursuing development plans, flood control and solid waste management systems.

Fifth, forge a genuine peace, especially in Mindanao, not only through law enforcement but through the resolution of the root causes of the conflicts in the countryside, poverty and social injustice to name a few.

Sixth, forge a cultural renaissance for Filipino culture and traits to be recognized, rejuvenated and passed on to future generations “because they are what makes Filipinos unique as a people.”

I asked all New Patriots to vote for Loren Legarda. I ask my fellow brothers and sisters in the Islamic faith and all other faiths, to campaign for her.

With Loren's entry, the vice presidential derby has become more interesting than the presidential. Imagine, two political heavyweights, namely Mar Roxas and Loren Legarda, will be fighting headlong in this. Loren enjoys an edge since based on SWS surveys, she has a solid mass base support of 26%, far from the 13-14% mass base support of Roxas.

Roxas has the money but Loren has the support of local government officials and of course, Danding Cojuangco.

If the Estrada oppositionist camp wants to win, it must convince Binay to just give way to Loren Legarda. Now, if Loren runs with Chiz as her presidentiable, they might possibly clinch it. A Chiz-Loren tandem has better chances than, say, a Villar-Loren or a Teodoro-Loren, although this tandem is really very, very ideal for one simple fact---both are highly intelligent and with a vision. Sadly, this cannot be because of a misconception that it is a kiss of death to align with the administration.

Source:
http://newphilrevolution.blogspot.com/2009/10/at-last-candidate-with-vision-loren.html

Sunday, November 8, 2009

‘Polluters must pay,’ says Loren To push at UN debt-for-climate adaptation swap

Senator Loren Legarda yesterday proposed a ”novel” way to fund the country’s climate change adaptation and reconstruction initiatives in view of the fact that half of the country’s annual budget, pegged at P1.5 trillion for 2010, is allocated for foreign-debt servicing.

Loren said that the country’s reconstruction efforts from the devastations wrought by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi, as well as its implementation of the landmark 2009 Climate Change Act, are hobbled primarily by lack of funds.

“I am proposing for our creditors, including the World Bank and the United States, to consider a Debt for Climate Change Adaptation Swap, in which portions of our payments for our foreign debts will be used by us instead for reconstruction and climate adaptation measures,” said Loren.

The chair of the Senate Oversight Committee on Climate Change, Loren revealed that she would formalize her proposal during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change Adaptation to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark from December 7 to 18.

Appointed by the UN as its Climate Change Mitigation and Disaster Risk-Reduction Champion for the Asia-Pacific Region, Loren will co-head the Philippine delegation to the Copenhagen conference.

She explained that under her proposal, the World Bank and the US, for example, may allow the Philippines to use US$1 billion (roughly P47 billion at the present exchange rate) for climate change related activities.

Among those that may be funded by the swap are the reforestation of three to eight million hectares each year, relocation of families displaced by the recent typhoons, and the refurbishing and/or the building of new schools, hospitals and mass settlements to higher standards, away from geographically hazardous areas.

Loren said international lending institutions and rich, highly developed nations like the US and Japan must also help poor and developing countries like the Philippines grapple with the effects of climate change.

She explained that as the primary user of fossil fuel like oil and coal, rich nations have the lion’s share in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which is blamed for global warming.

“Under my Polluters Must Pay Principle, the international community of nations must press developed countries not only to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, but to contribute financially to a Climate Adaptation Fund,” Loren said.

She said that poor countries affected by climate change such as the Maldives, whose coasts are being swamped; Bhutan, which is hounded by perennial flooding and earthquakes; and the Philippines, may tap into the fund.

She pressed immediate action by the Philippines for the 60,000 families living under a mountain of garbage in Lupang Arenda in Taytay, Rizal, the thousands of farmers from Laguna whose farmlands had been flooded and had become part of Laguna de Bay; and the many other Filipinos in Bulacan whose livestock and poultry had been washed away by the flood.

“Farmers in Laguna had been forced to become fisher folks as their lands had come under water. Such an irony manifests the gravity of our problem,” Loren said.

During the Global Humanitarian Forum held last June in Geneva, Switzerland, Loren already presented her concepts on how poor nations can have access to climate adaptation funds, including those culled from the gross domestic products of rich nations.

She recalled the ideas being received enthusiastically by the forum, with UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes describing them as “noble ideas.”

Source:
http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1257747411.html

Senator Loren Legarda Speech on Philippine Forest

Ladies and gentlemen, officers and members of the Society of Filipino Foresters, Incorporated, my partners in environmental protection, a pleasant day to all of you.

Across the years, Philippine forests continuously declined in physical and environmental terms. Forest land area alarmingly went down from 36.3 percent or more than one-third of the country’s land area in 1970 to 18 percent in 2001. Evidently, most of our country’s once rich forests are now gone.

This is tragic because forests are indispensable in the overall ecological balance of the world by acting as a home for biodiversity and by protecting vital water and soil resources. Also, forests serve as major carbon sinks that absorb great quantities of carbon dioxide that otherwise would add to the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and rapid climate change.

Recent events have shown us the grim scenario of climate change impact. The intense and record-high rainfall by Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi, as well as the consequent fatalities and damages have shown us that the price we pay for denuding our forests and abusing the environment is well beyond our means.

It is therefore an imperative for us to do everything in our power to protect the forests left for our children and for humanity. It is an uphill climb but we must gather courage. We must pool in our knowledge, our skills, our commitment, and our passion. Essentially, we could find the know-how, the skills, and the passion among our foresters.

Our foresters are the ones who are literally “on the ground” in protecting our forests from abuse and misuse. They are the foot soldiers. They are our forests’ caretakers. And incident to their vocation, foresters are also our partners in reducing poverty in the rural areas. Indeed, many are already rising to the challenge, and our gathering here today is a testament to this.

Let me reiterate that forest protection, like environmental protection, is not its own end. As always, the strong environmental thrust of my advocacy is part of my larger plan and vision of eradicating poverty in the grassroots. Taking care of our forests not only responds to climate change and other environmental concerns but also deals with persistent local poverty because forests are a vital part of the development in the rural areas. I envision every part of the country, every nook and cranny, to be planted with trees so as to be eventually capable of developing to their fullest potential.

The recently passed Climate Change Act gives a window of opportunity for us to respond to the challenges of climate change in a comprehensive manner. As the principal author and sponsor of the law, I set out to give more stakeholders and communities greater responsibility and opportunity to initiate programs in their respective areas of responsibility that are aligned to the national and global goal of sustainable development.

This legislation mandates the creation of a Climate Change Commission which will create an enabling environment for multi-stakeholder participation. Moreover, it will provide technical and financial support to local research and development programs and projects in vulnerable communities. Financial packages for climate change related projects will be provided by government financial institutions.

Given the global condition of the environment, foresters are becoming more important in the future. Rest assured that my advocacy of tree-growing and rejuvenating our forests has not been a case of missing the foresters for the trees. You have my ears in matters of environmental protection and so feel free to tell me your concerns. We will find ways to address them.

In conclusion, I wish you success in your convention this year. As I read your theme, “Sustainable Forests: Key to Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity Conservation," I am gladdened because it is aligned with my advocacy of environmental protection and sustainable development. It is aligned with our efforts in finding the best ways to put forests to work for the benefit of the poor in rural communities and in the world. It is aligned with our efforts in making forests adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Forests make the world safe for habitation and you, foresters, are instrumental for making this world a better place.

Source:
http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1257562801.html

Loren to Press Debt Swap for Disasters in UN Meet

Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on climate change, will press for the adoption of her proposal to swap foreign debt for disaster mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change Adaptation to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on December 7 to 18.

Loren, who is also UN champion for disaster risk reduction in Asia-Pacific, initially made the
proposal during the world parliamentarians’ Global Platform 2009 in Geneva last June as a creative solution to raise funds for disaster risk reduction programs.

In announcing her plan to push her proposal at the Copenhagen conference, Loren said that the “huge devastation and the horrific casualties caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, as well as rising threats of even greater natural catastrophes in the future, make international cooperation more urgent in combating climate change.”

World parliamentarians adopted Loren’s proposal for a debt-for-risk reduction swap at the Global
Platform 2009 meeting in Geneva as a practical approach to climate change adaptation involving both developed and developing countries.

“It’s a new concept adopted at the UN Global Platform on DRR. This is the easiest because no new funds, financing or resources, are needed. This is a creative way of paying for debt and it’s a creative collaboration between the developed and poor developing nations. In this effort, nobody loses, humanity wins,” said Senator Loren Legarda, the United Nation’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) champion for disaster risk reduction and climate change
adaptation in the Asia Pacific region.

In a summary report on the global platform proceedings, the Chair said, “The Global Platform recognized a drastic mismatch between the resources required to address disaster risk in developing countries and those actually available. A massive scaling up of action is needed. Put bluntly, many countries must dedicate substantially more funds from national budgets – or increasingly suffer the consequences. This is also a must for the international community, since some countries suffer from institutional and capacity weaknesses and unless their capacities are strengthened implementation will not succeed.”

“A variety of innovations, such as incentives for retrofitting, risk transfer tools, risk-sensitive development, private sector involvement, debt swaps to finance disaster reduction measures and linkages with adaptation financing were proposed at the Global Platform,” the conference report said.

“Institutional innovations proposed included more direct resourcing of local initiatives and groups that are effective in reducing risks, such as grassroots women’s organizations.”

The Philippines has a foreign debt of around $52 billion, draining a huge portion for the national budget for payment of amortizations and interests every year and contributing to a huge deficit.

Through a debt swap, the creditor country cancels a portion of debt. In return, the debtor country invests the canceled amount in development projects according to conditions previously agreed by both parties.

Championed by the Philippines in the United Nations’ system, debt swaps have surfaced on the agenda of some donor or lending countries as a novel way to finance the UN Millennium Development goals.

Some of the projects that can be funded to lessen risks during disasters are the building of safe hospitals and schools, planting mangroves in coastal areas, cleaning up rivers in blighted urban areas and retrofitting unsafe public infrastructures as a protection against imminent earthquake, said the senator.

The Legarda proposal was commended by no less than UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes who considered it “a noble idea” along with the proposal to use 30 percent of the UN climate adaptation funds for DRR. Presently, 45 percent of the Philippine annual budget goes to debt service.

Source:
http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph/article-1257677621.html

Friday, November 6, 2009

Join Team Loren on Facebook

We have a group on Facebook. Please join us here.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=155742109914&v=wall&ref=mf


Every other Pinoy family considers itself poor, says SWS

FIFTY-THREE percent of Filipino families consider themselves poor while a little less than 50 percent believe they are food-poor, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey from Sept. 18-21 showed.

These figures were taken before tropical storm "Ondoy" flooded Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Southern Tagalog and typhoon "Pepeng" did the same to northern Luzon. Damage brought about by the two weather disturbances has reached P36 billion.

The survey polled 1,800 respondents and had an error margin range of plus/minus 2.3-6 percent.

SWS also found that 28 percent of Filipino families said they are on the borderline while only 20 percent claimed they are not poor.

The figure is 3 points higher than the 50 percent in June 2009. It has been at the 50 percent level since March 2008, except February 2009 when it was at 47 percent.

Similarly, the Self-Rated Food Poverty also rose to 41 percent from 39 percent in June. About 35 percent put themselves in the food-borderline while 24 percent said they are not food-poor.

Self-rated poverty dropped in Mindanao (62 percent to 57 percent), but it rose in Luzon (44 percent to 51 percent) and in the Visayas (56 percent to 60 percent). It barely changed in Metro Manila (42 percent to 41 percent).

Self-rated food poverty also declined in Mindanao (47 percent to 43 percent) but it went up in the Visayas (42 percent to 48 percent), in Metro Manila (32 percent to 35 percent), and in Luzon (35 percent to 38 percent).

SWS said poor families have been lowering their living standards or tightening their belts to cope with poverty, as shown by the sluggishness of the self-rated poverty threshold, or the monthly budget that families need in order not to consider themselves as poor.

As of September 2009, the threshold rose to P15,000 in Metro Manila and to P10,000 in Luzon, although these levels have already been reached in the past. It stayed at P5,000 in Mindanao while dipping in the Visayas from P8,000 to P5,000.

The food-poverty threshold also went up in Metro Manila from P5,000 to P6,500 and in Luzon from P3,000 to P5,000. It remained at P3,000 in Mindanao and dropped to P3,000 in the Visayas.

SWS said the P15,000 Metro Manila poverty threshold is equivalent to only P9,536 in base year 2000 purchasing power, after deflation by the Consumer Price Index. It said the deflated poverty threshold of below P10,000 per month is similar to living standards of over a decade ago.

The median food-poverty threshold of P6,500 in Metro Manila is equivalent to only P4,257 in base year 2000 purchasing power for food.

Sen. Loren Legarda criticized what she said was government’s "sugar-coated" statistics on poverty incidence.

"There is great disparity between the 53 percent of Filipinos who consider themselves poor in the latest Social Weather Station survey and the 32.9 percent of poor Filipinos as determined by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)," she said.

Source:
http://kakkampi.blogspot.com/2009/11/every-other-pinoy-family-considers.html

Group backs Legarda, Cayetano’s pro-environment stance Reiterates need to make 2010 budget ‘climate-sensitive’

The policy research and advocacy group La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) on Thursday backed the proposal of Senators Loren Legarda and Pia Cayetano to ‘recast’ the proposed P1.541-trillion budget for 2010 to make it more ‘climate-sensitive’ and responsive to the need to prepare for the adverse impacts of climate change.

Jonathan Ronquillo, La Liga’s Envi-Campaigner, reminded lawmakers that the Philippines will remain vulnerable to climate change because of its unique geographic location.

He noted that Senators Legarda and Cayetano’s proposals supports La Liga’s alternative budget proposal.

In its alternative budget proposal entitled “Financing Climate Change Actions: A Must for the 2010 Budget”, La Liga underscored the urgent need for the Philippines to shift to a climate-sensitive development path to better respond to threats of Climate Change.

La Liga urged Malacanang to use its P140-billion ‘savings’ in 2008 to strengthen its disaster response strategy, starting with funding the ongoing rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-affected areas that were ravaged by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and recently, Ramil.

The paper, copies of which were submitted by La Liga to members of the Philippine senate, noted the lack of over-all national framework for climate change, highlighting the need for harmonization to ensure maximum impact of the various mitigation and adaptation initiatives of the government and various stakeholders.

“The Philippines is composed of 7,100 island and islet and is situated along the typhoon belt, which makes us more prone to natural disasters. We need to strengthen our disaster response, first by financing climate-change mitigation and adaptation measures,” he said.

La Liga, which serves as the secretariat of the Environment Cluster of the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) insists on allocating an additional P11.4-billion for the environment and natural resources sector to better prepare the country to extreme weather effects such as drought and super typhoons.

The amount will cover specific climate change mitigation and adaptation measures to be implemented across the various government agencies, most specially the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Ronquillo noted that the DENR, the agency mandated to protect and promote the environment, was allotted P9.58-billion for 2010, which is 17.6% or P2-billion lower compared to the current year’s budget of P11.63-billion, which is “way below” what is expected for a country severely affected and supposedly preparing for the worst impacts of climate change.

The alternative budget proposal, Ronquillo said, will hopefully cover climate change mitigation and adaptation measures anchored on (1) renewable/sustainable energy systems; (2) biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry; (3) clean and green industrial technology; and (4) ecological waste management.

The group also reminded lawmakers to give priority to protecting the environment by funding projects for the rehabilitation and development of the country’s protected areas and national parks, and the timely release of such funds “so that concerned government agencies will be able to do its job.”

Senator Legarda wants funding for the Climate Change Act of 2009, which she authored. Signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Oct. 23, the act calls for the creation of a Climate Change Commission. Priority expenditures include the purchase of more pump boats and other rescue equipment; development of water-submersible crops; and improvement of local area disaster response operations. It also calls for steps to reduce carbon emissions and increase forest cover as risk reduction measures.

Senator Cayetano, on the other hand, called for budget realignments to finance other pro-environment laws and programs including the reinstatement of the P2-billion slash in the proposed budget of the DENR.

Source:
http://envicluster.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/group-backs-legarda-cayetano%E2%80%99s-pro-environment-stance-reiterates-need-to-make-2010-budget-%E2%80%98climate-sensitive%E2%80%99/