Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has assured that there will be no letup in the fight against climate change and disaster risks as building resilient communities remains a top priority for the government.
“Sa mga darating na araw at buwan, patuloy nating palalakasin ang ating mga programa at polisiya. Patuloy nating titiyakin ang katatagan ng kinabukasan ng ating bansa,” Cimatu said during the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Forum held in Davao City on July 17.
The forum came five days before President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his fourth SONA on July 22.
As a way forward, Cimatu said the Duterte administration will continue to pursue policy reforms that integrate climate and disaster risk considerations into development policies, strategies, plans and programs.
Cimatu said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will continue to coordinate closely with other line agencies under the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR) to ensure that they work together toward the goal of establishing adaptive and resilient communities.
The DENR chief co-chairs the cluster with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, while the Climate Change Commission acts as the cluster secretariat. The members include the Executive Secretary, the Cabinet Secretary, and the heads of the Presidential Management Staff, the Department of Budget and Management, the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Finance, and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Other members are the secretaries of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Energy (DOE), the chairpersons of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, and the heads of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Presidential Communications Operations Office, National Security Council, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Cimatu said the Cabinet cluster supports the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience and other legislative proposals that promote disaster and climate resilience, such as the proposed National Land Use Act, Land Administration Reform Act, Integrated Coastal Management Act, and National Building Code of the Philippines.
“With the help of Congress, we intend to adopt a national land use policy that will optimize balanced development,” Cimatu said. “We hope to achieve this through rational and just allocation, utilization, management and development of our country’s land resources under the proposed National Land Use Act.”
This policy, he said, will be complemented by the planned delineation of forest limits, which would enable the DENR to sustainably manage, conserve and protect the country’s remaining forests from further depletion.
Meanwhile, Cimatu said the proposed Land Administration Act seeks to improve the land sector as a driver to sustainable development, economic growth and poverty alleviation.
“Hindi lamang pangangalaga sa kalikasan ang pakay natin,” Cimatu explained. “Misyon din natin na mapakinabangan ng mamamayan ang likas na yaman sa mas mahabang panahon para lalo pang mapabuti ang kalagayan nila sa buhay.”
Cimatu said the cluster will work for the swift enactment of the Integrated Coastal Management Act, which would ensure optimum and sustainable resource utilization of coastal and marine environment.
He said the establishment of a department devoted to disaster resilience is necessary to help the government manage broader climate-disaster governance arrangements, and oversee the implementation of disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management.
The cluster, according to Cimatu, also supports proposal to prohibit the conversion of irrigated lands as it would address the threats to the country’s food security.
He said that crucial to the government’s strategy was the proposed National Building Code of the Philippines, which aims to provide a framework for minimum standards and requirements for all buildings and structures so that government can regulate and control their location, site, construction, use, occupancy and maintenance.
At the same time, Cimatu said the government will provide the ability to generate, synthesize and disseminate knowledge, methodologies and decision-making tools to ensure climate resilience.
To cite an example, Cimatu said the DOST commits the installation of more than a dozen doppler weather radars and high frequency doppler radar networks in various parts of the country.
The DOST, he added, is also set to install several flood forecasting and warning systems in major river basins, a borehole seismic station in Kanlaon Volcano in Negros Island, and a probabilistic seismic hazard analysis in Metro Davao.
On the other hand, the DICT will implement programs on communications technology to prepare the communities and local government units in case of disasters.
“Lahat po ito ay gagawin natin para mabigyan ng panahon ang ating mga kababayan na lumikas bago pa man dumating ang bagyo,” Cimatu said.
“Sisiguruhin natin na walang pamilyang Pilipino ang nasa peligro sa panahon ng kalamidad,” he added.
Cimatu also revealed that the DOE will intensify development of renewable energy in off-grid areas for wider access of populace.
The government will continue to mainstream the use of alternative fuels and energy technology in the transport sector, as well as monitor the implementation of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, Cimatu said.
To ensure quick restoration of energy services during and after calamities, Cimatu said the government will strengthen energy systems and facilities through the energy resiliency program.
He also said that the government will provide financial assistance for disaster mitigation, preparedness and rehabilitation of damaged electric cooperatives. #