Pacquiao backs climate change survival fund

Posted at 02/23/2011 10:13 PM | Updated as of 02/24/2011 11:28 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing superstar and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao is among lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate who are supporting the creation of a climate change survival fund for local governments, a think-tank official said Wednesday.

The number of legislators co-authoring the People's Survival Fund (PSF) Bill has reached 71, according to Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities iCSC executive director Red Constantino.

He said the bill, which was filed as twin measures in the Senate and the Lower Chamber by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada, seeks to provide committed funding to local governments to help them cope with worsening extreme climatic events.

 "The Lower Chamber is heeding the clamor of governors, mayors and local government leaders who continue to convey in writing their call for the early passage of the PSF Bill. This is the kind of response communities need given the increasing magnitude of economic and social costs due to climate change-linked disasters," Constantino said.

The PSF bill has already passed first hearing in both chambers of Congress.

Under the bill, local governments can avail of programs such as the deployment of local agricultural meteorological capability and technology, livelihood and shelter support for communities threatened by rising seas, small water impounding projects and crop shifting support for areas facing anticipated extreme drought conditions, and anti-flooding measures.

Once the bill is passed, annual portions of proceeds from government-owned corporations and the Motor Vehicle Users Charge (MVUC) will be pooled in the climate change survival fund.

It will be managed by the Climate Change Commission, together with agencies such as the Department of Finance, the Department of Budget and Management, with representatives from the business and NGO sectors sitting as observers.

ICSi said record rainfall has led to recent extreme flooding in the eastern side of the Philippines and in places not normally hit by extreme precipitation such as Cebu and Palawan.

“Metro Cebu recently received 400 mm of rainfall in January compared to the 80.9 mm precipitation registered in the same month last year. Over 90% of Butuan City went under water in early February, while provinces such as Agusan del Sur, Sulu, Capiz, Cagayan and Albay experienced severe inundation, resulting in deaths and damage to livelihoods and billions of pesos worth of property,” the think-tank said.

 "It's only February and yet we're already economically reeling from extreme weather. The establishment of the People's Survival Fund is a huge step towards reducing community vulnerability and building local government resiliency," Constantino added.