Saturday, August 21, 2010

Notes from a distracted mind
August 22, 2010

At least its not a gray daze. Just a blue funk. Having moved from one fine team to organize another, I think I've done better to organize myself and reestablish some rhythms to writing. But it's been really hard to let go of a few strands of troublemaking  - some call it campaigning -- which has largely encroached on the writing space.

Not that things have been bad. I've actually enjoyed returning to the high octane world of campaigns, hatching plans, bringing big stuff on the screen and into the big picture, getting results that I think will endure. Poking the eyes of bumbling idiots. Having a great time as well catching up with long-time friends, such as Randy and Roel, my two buddies back from my table tennis varsity team days at the Polytechnic Univeristy of the Philippines. In this pic, we're with our coach, former national player Edwin Asis (behind me in white; Roel's in front of me and Randy's behind Coach Asis), who moved to Canada the other month.

Taking out the writing pot from the heating plate of course means less brews. But there are also some benefits. Materials gathered, notes made for longer and more pieces, a lot of drafts that, though unfinished, are on the table waiting for the distracted mind.

I am also happy to work with a good friend, Romil, to design a website dedicated to the things I do as I shift to other gears and use and mix all sorts of basic colors.

New stuff is on the web. I've decided to now post as well not just pieces I've finished but also facets of the work I do, when I'm not writing or painting, or when I'm not contemplating new adventures. I have no idea and can't remember why I tried to separate the mutant's life with terrestrial flight, but this time I'll try to put things together.

On the main page you'll see a spread of six or seven things that reflect the funnies since June I think. It shows the interesting character of the institute I'm part of today. We work on solutions and policy, on internationally significant initiatives and locally relevant things. And it's been great.

I've moved from one international organization to another, thinking my travels would be lesser. It did not go down, but still the work has been fascinating. Taking the eJeepneys project, which is a small part of the Climate-Friendly Cities initiative that my kumare, Ateng Ballesteros, began some years ago, continues to be a source of joy and meaning. There's nothing like working on solutions on the ground, which really helps balance and provide greater meaning to the advocacy side of iCSC's policy work. You also get to work with great people, like the photo above with some of the country's best poets, such as Rayvi Sunico, and the pic below where poets Vim Nadera and Mike Coroza are goofing around with a cardboard rendition of the Berso sa Metro eJeepney, courtesy of good friends from Instituto Cervantes and their literacy campaign.

There should be more updates, therefore, on this The Other Things page that I've set up. But it should be a temporary placement. Hopefully, a more permanent site where visitors don't have to shift to too many pages will be built soon. Let's see what happens.

In the meantime, have a great beer and thanks again for dropping by.


Photos: I reall can't remember now who took which photo, save for the last one with Coroza et al in a funny pose, which I took.


A few thoughts on the previous period
Renato Redentor Constantino
August 22, 2010

Prior to iCSC, I was with Greenpeace for almost a decade, working on climate issues as a regional campaigner with Greenpeace Southeast Asia, covering Thailand, bits of Indonesia and a large part of the Philippines.

I had a great time working on the negotiations, though it's really not my cup of tea - part of campaigning is about "putting out fires" or "igniting fires" in a campaign sense. In the global negos to hammer out a relevant climate treaty with enduring, positive consequences for the planet, troublemaking - both confronting it or being the source of it, is not immediately evident.

But no complaints. Colleagues younger than myself are at the helm now and they're really built and trained for such work, and as a result they're doing far better.

I remember this one bash in Vienna, where the range of emissions reductions was being debated. This was just before the big (or small?) Bali UN climate event, and what was called then as "the range" would prove a crucial incremental step towards laying down a real basis for further negotiations regarding the emissions cuts rich countries had to make.

Here's a blast from the past, courtesy of the coverage of Bloomberg's Mathew Carr in August 31, 2007.

"Industrialized nations," Carr reported, "need to curb emissions by at least 25 percent and as much as 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels to stabilize the world's climate, according to conclusions at a United Nations meeting in Vienna," in a news story he filed with the lead "Developed countries should cut emissions by 40% by 2020". There were scores more filed with similar stories.

I do remember saying as a Greenpeace campaigner in the event's closing presser then, a quote carried by Carr and other news agencies, that "The road to Bali is clear, though it's time to switch gears."

The year after, I moved to head the largest network of NGOs and community groups that has been monitoring the policies, projects and programs of the Asian Development Bank since 1992. The group's name -- the NGO Forum on the ADB. It was and remains the leading watchdog and monitoring group that has helped keep at bay many of the destructive lending initiatives of the regional development bank.

My stint as Forum head was to take me to India often - work which I enjoyed immensely due to the companionship and comradeship of great friends and the explicit historicity of the country -- a great house of memory.

The work also brought me to places Central Asia and the Caucasus, an incredibly fascinating world with diverse cultures and from where I've also made what I believe to be life-long friendships.

Another blast from the past - in early May in 2009, the Forum led one of the stronger push-backs against the ADB, which was then trying to leverage a huge capitalization increase from its main donor country shareholders.

With a great advocacy team composed of Jessica, Steph, Tea, Rina, Leak, and Joanna, and a comunications team led by Romil and ably guided by Rico - the savvy, suave media campaigner - and Afif, we registered enough pressure to eventually influence Bank decisions that led to the strengthening of ADB's safeguards and energy policies.

The editorial below by Manila Times reminds me of that period, which Romil, Rico, Afif and I celebrated by getting ourselves cross-eyed with booze on the event's final day in May 6, I think. The whole gang was there too, but the communications group was the one that got punch drunk, including myself.

The editorial title of the Times was "ADB, ‘rebalancing’ and Filipinos". It conveyed a fraction of the anger and frustration from social movements and community groups, in the midst of the ADB's bid for a general capital increase:

The Filipino activist and intellectual Red Constantino said, “The bank is proposing a blinkered, business-as-usual program that will not prevent developing countries from sliding back into poverty but instead is likely to cause environmental destruction and social dislocation.” Other activists slammed ADB plans to partner with private equity funds to advance private sector activity without proper oversight mechanisms. They berated ADB’s and governments’ cynical use of “the current crisis to re-promote discredited large-scale infrastructure-biased development” destructive of the environment and minority communities.

Elsewhere, international news agencies picked up most of our messages and for the coherence of our narrative and the preparations made by the communications team, our stories were picked up by the Associated Press several times, along with Xinhua, Deutsche Press Agency and Agence France Presse.

Here is Stephen Wright, whose story on the ADB's Annual Meet in Bali in 2009 was published by USA Today. Wright used the context we had provided earlier, as we released a barrage of reports indicting the Bank's directions.

In the May 3 story "Asia urged to rethink growth policies," Wright wrote about the clamor that "Asia's governments must spend more on social safety nets and reduce their reliance on export-driven growth even as they grapple with an economic meltdown that will keep tens of millions trapped in poverty, finance officials said Sunday." I had an interview with Wright that day, and the response I gave made it to the story he filed:

"Some hotels hosting conference delegates have nightly rates that are more than a poor family in Asia earns in one year. More than 900 million in Asia live on $1.25 or less a day," Wright wrote, including my response to the context -- "The accommodation is indicative of the bank's efforts in meeting the financial crisis," said Red Constantino, executive director of NGO Forum on ADB — an umbrella group pushing the bank to become more accountable. "There's a wide gap between their rhetoric and what they do in reality."

From as far as the Gulf Daily News, which covered the ADB's $10 billion lending push during the tail-end of the financial crisis last year, the Middle East paper wrote on May 3 that:

Activist organisations have not welcomed the bank's bigger firepower, saying ADB-funded projects often harm the very people they aim to help.

"If not managed well, this 200pc general capital increase could easily translate into a more than 200pc increase in social and environmental harm," said NGO Forum on ADB executive director Red Constantino.

A lot of the results from that period, and the months leading up to March 2010, which is when I moved out of the Forum, can be read here.

I encourage readers to contact the new chief of the Forum, Dr. Avilash Roul, who has since April this year taken over the reins. He cooks a wicked mutton masala, so be a friend if you want additional happiness.

Thanks again for dropping by. #

Damaged ecosystems magnify Asia's killer floods
by Karl Malakunas, Agence France Presse

MANILA, Aug 19, 2010 (AFP) - Climate change may be playing a part in record rains ravaging Asia but environment experts say the destruction of ecosystems is more directly to blame for the severity of killer floods.

Widespread deforestation, the conversion of wetlands to farms or urban sprawl and the clogging up of natural drainage systems with garbage are just some of the factors exacerbating the impacts of the floods, they say.

"You can't just blame nature... humans have encroached on the natural flood plains," said Ganesh Pangare, Bangkok-based regional water and wetlands coordinator with the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Pangare said better management of flood plains would limit the human and economic costs of natural disasters, such as the recent record rains in Pakistan that killed an estimated 1,400 people.

"You have to ensure that natural infrastructure is protected. Otherwise development in Asia is not sustainable," he said.

Red Constantino, the Manila-based head of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said climate change was becoming a convenient way for Asian leaders to excuse themselves when natural disasters struck.

"When there is any big flooding it's become commonplace for climate change to be blamed when in fact many of the problems are fixable at the local level," said Constantino.

"Whether you are in Jakarta or Bangkok or Manila you have a basic issue with bad waste management, bad land management and urban sprawl."

Constantino referred to last year's devastation in Manila when Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped the heaviest rains in four decades on the Philippine capital.

Eighty percent of the city was submerged at the height of the flooding and more than 400 people died.

But although then president Gloria Arroyo highlighted climate change as at fault for the severity of the storm, a host of more direct human factors were to blame for the massive death toll.

Millions of people who built homes along flood plains in recent decades, the destruction of upstream forests and a proliferation of garbage that clogged up waterways all magnified the disaster, according to Constantino.

"Metro Manila is having to deal with the consequences of really bad planning," he said, pointing out the disaster did not lead to any major changes in the city's urban management policies.

Bruce Dunn, an environment specialist with the Asian Development Bank's Regional and Sustainable Development Department, said the destruction of forests across Asia was one of the major magnifiers of flood disasters.

He referred to a study by Australia's Charles Darwin University and the National University of Singapore that found a 10-percent decrease in forests led to the frequency of floods rising by between four and 28 percent.

But, amid a seemingly inexorable path towards ever-worsening damage of Asia's ecosystems, Dunn said there were some examples of improvements.

He pointed to China's reforestation efforts, which began after the country was hit by massive floods in the 1980s.

"At the time there were huge levels of deforestation and almost overnight there was a very rapid policy change," Dunn said.

"Now, in terms of forest cover, Asia has had some increases because of reforestation in China."

Pangare, from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, echoed this theme, saying investment in "natural infrastructure" was the only way to protect people from the impacts of potential climate change-induced floods.

"Building concrete and walls to stop the floods is not the answer," he said.

"You have to invest in natural infrastructure -- forests, river basins, lakes, wetlands." #

Photo by AFP.

Government urged to access climate fund directly, not through WB
Cai U. Ordinario
The Business Mirror
August 16, 2010

THE Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) is urging the Philippine government to access the United Nations Adaptation Fund (AF) directly instead of going through channels like the Washington-based lender, the World Bank Group.

In a statement sent to the BusinessMirror, the iCSC said there is a proposal to have the $15-million Flood Early Warning System project—implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa)---funded by the AF through the World Bank.

The iCSC said the World Bank is trying to push for “more climate loans” instead of the country accessing the multibillion-dollar AF directly by submitting a proposal to the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) which manages the fund.

The AF is the first financial instrument under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol (KP).

“The World Bank-crafted proposal shows the World Bank inserting itself as the Philippine funding conduit to the AF. The document shows the World Bank colluding with unwitting officials from the [DPWH] and the [Pagasa] through a prospective $15-million AF grant. Under the proposal, the World Bank serves as an intermediary institution that will access the AF on behalf of the Philippines,” the statement said.

“It carries provisions that deliberately contradict the Philippine position in international climate-finance talks, which champions the promotion and operationalization of adaptation finance directly accessed by developing countries and free of MDB intermediaries. The proposal is not based on the country’s adaptation action plan and will likely squander urgently needed financial resources from the AF,” the statement added.

Joe Tuyor, World Bank East Asia and the Pacific Region Philippine Sustainable Development Unit Senior Operations Officer, told the BusinessMirror in a phone interview over the weekend that the details of the project have reached the bank, but the matter has not yet been acted upon because the project was not endorsed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) for funding under the AF.

Tuyor explained that accessing the AF could be done through multilaterals like the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), or directly by submitting a proposal to the AF board.

He stressed that it is still for the Philippine government to decide whether or not to have a particular project submitted for funding under the AF, and what kind of modality it will use to obtain AF funding.

“Countries can submit proposals direct to the adaptation board without going through the World Bank or UNDP, the other implementing agency of the adaptation fund. The guidelines for accessing the fund is available in the fund’s web site,” Tuyor said in a text message.

Tuyor added that based on their discussions with State officials in June, the bank and the government decided to postpone the evaluation of the proposal until after the Philippine Action Plan is drafted and completed by the CCC.

As the country’s sole policymaking body on climate change and other related programs and projects in the government, the iCSC said ensuring that projects like these are closely monitored is a priority.

However, in a recent statement, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said some actions of the CCC, a collegial body headed by the President, have only been decided by the vice chairman, the position occupied by former Environment secretary Heherson Alvarez.

Because of this, Enrile is also pushing for the amendment of Republic Act 9729 or the Climate Change Act, which created the CCC.

“This is a case of malicious intention on the part of the World Bank, which should be aware of the country’s long-held preference for the direct-access modality of the adaptation fund. But this is also an indication of the Commission’s cluelessness. This condition means it is part of the reason behind the governance chaos plaguing the administration of climate finance in the country,” iCSC Executive Director Renato Redentor Constantino said.

Alvarez, on the other hand, said the CCC is aware of all adaptation projects, including the ones discussed before the CCC was given its full mandate.

He said he has already submitted the country’s National Framework Strategy on Climate Change to a United Nations body to access the AF in a recent conference in Bonn, Germany.

Alvarez also said having a framework sent the signal to the UN that the Philippines is now ready to access the fund. He also said that on Tuesday, the CCC will meet with the DENR to discuss how to access the fund and what projects can be funded under the AF.

“The WB is clearly to blame for attempting to pull a fast one. But we have become easy prey because of the commission’s incompetence. The vice chairman is unaware of the World Bank (WB) submission. Worse, the same person has tried to access the AF by submitting the wrong document to the wrong body,” Constantino added.

Based on the project document obtained by the iCSC, the lion’s share of the funding will be for the $5.3-million National Early Warning Center, which will command and control the early warning system.

Other big items to be funded include the $2.4-million procurement of hardware and software for the system, and $2-million feasibility study for priority investments for the Bank’s identified Master plan for flood management in Metro Manila.

“The WB proposal intends to fund yet more feasibility studies [costing $2 million], for priority investments to be identified under a WB-financed flood-management plan, instead of concrete-adaptation projects called for by the Philippines. In addition, though feasibility studies are critical, the effort must at least be based on a country’s agreed priority needs,” the iCSC said.

Other items to be financed include the $1.514-million project to rehabilitate and upgrade flood control operation systems and the $1.15-million management fee for the WB.

“The proposal will waste $1.514 million to rehabilitate failed projects which, based on flawed designs, should probably not have been financed in the first place,” the iCSC said. “The total project cost of the WB proposal amounts to $13.85 million and allocates for the WB $2-million representing management costs, bringing the total financing proposal to $15 million.”
The iCSC said the Philippines played a central role in pushing for the creation of the AF, which represents, among global climate funds, the benchmark in terms of accountability principles, democratic governance, and innovative funding modalities.

The AF has the potential to generate greater resources. Unlike other global climate funds, the AF is not Official Development Assistance-driven and instead is funded by a 2-percent levy on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) transactions.

Currently, iCSC data showed that revenues generated from the CDM levy are projected to be between $160 million and $950 million. Ongoing discussions indicate that the application of levies on international air travel may generate an additional $4-10 billion annually. The AF has also begun to receive bilateral funds, with Spain contributing $60 million recently.

For more details, contact: Red Constantino,, +639175241123,

iCSC Brief

World Bank moves to tap UN Adaptation Fund on behalf of the Philippines, undermines country’s direct access to the fund

Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, August 2010

The World Bank is actively undermining the ability of the Philippines to (1) access urgently needed, untied adaptation finance and (2) operationalize direct access-driven financing modalities. Documents and related information recently acquired by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) expose plans by the World Bank to deny the Philippine government the option to directly access resources from the UN's Adaptation Fund (AF) and potentially impose more climate loans.

Lodged in the AF is the direct access finance modality, which, based on agreed rules, provides particularly developing countries like the Philippines the option to directly access funds in the AF without having to pass through multilateral development banks (MDB) such as the World Bank. Long championed by the Philippines, the direct access modality in the AF was crafted and agreed in the UN as an alternative to conditionality-spiked, inefficient, bureaucractic funding from MDBs. Among global climate funds, the AF represents today the benchmark in terms of accountability principles, democratic governance and accessible, developing country-sensitive, non-ODA driven financing mechanisms.

The World Bank-crafted document acquired by iCSC shows the World Bank inserting itself as the Philippine funding conduit to the AF. The document shows the World Bank colluding with unwitting officials from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) through a prospective US$15 million AF grant. Under the proposal, the World Bank serves as an intermediary institution that will access the AF on behalf of the Philippines. It carries provisions that:

1. Deliberately contradict the Philippine position in international climate finance talks, which champions the promotion and operationalization of adaptation finance options free of MDB intermediaries.

2. The proposal is not based on the country's adaptation action plan and will likely squander urgently needed financial resources from the AF:

a. The WB proposal intends to fund yet more feasibility studies (costing $2.0 million), for priority investments to be identified under a WB-financed flood management plan, instead of concrete adaptation projects called for by the Philippines. Feasibility studies can be crucial to the realization of a country's agenda, but the effort must be based on a country's agreed priority needs.

b. The proposal will waste $1.514 million to rehabilitate failed projects which, having been based on flawed designs, should probably not have been financed in the first place.

c. The proposal fritters away funds by allocating US$1.0 million to pay for costly "consultancy services" provided by teams whose expertise and accountability will be as suspect as the institution (WB) that will hire them and who may follow WB-designed plans instead of nationally crafted and agreed adaptation action plans.

d. The total project cost of the World Bank proposal amounts to $13.85 million and allocates for the World Bank US$2.0 million representing management costs, bringing the total financing proposal to $15 million. Allowing a 10 percent "corruption" cost - an absurd proposition - still ends up cheaper than paying a 15 percent WB management fee.

This act of climate sabotage is merely the latest move taken by the World Bank against developing country interests. Earlier this June, it approved the "Climate Change Adaptation Project" (CCAP), worth US$55.42 million. Money for this project was pooled under a “co-financing” scheme that bannered a US$4.97M grant (from the GEF) evidently “co-financed” by the Philippines through funds from an existing loan coming from the same source – the World Bank.  The loan component for the CCAP amounts to US$50 million, representing around 90 percent of the total project cost, which may end up being counted as new and addtional contributions to adaptation finance from developed countries. Current World Bank energy funding also undercuts the very climate survival agenda of developing countries: five times more money is spent by the Bank to finance climate-polluting fossil fuel projects compared to its allocations for new renewable energy initiatives. #

About the Adaptation Fund

The Adaptation Fund (AF) is the first financial instrument under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol (KP) that is not based solely on voluntary contributions from donor countries. The Philippines played a central role in pushing for the creation of the AF, which today represents among global climate funds the benchmark in terms of accountability principles, democractic governance and innovative funding modalities.

The AF has the potential to generate greater resources. Unlike other global climate funds, the AF is not ODA-driven and instead "is funded by a 2% levy on Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) transactions. Currently, revenue generated from the CDM levy is projected to be between $160-$950 million (1).  Ongoing discussions indicate that the application of levies on international air travel may generate an additional $4-10 billion annually. The AF has also begun to receive bilateral funds, with Spain contributing $60 million recently (2).

The AF is fully accountable to and under the full authority of the UN climate assembly. It is the only fund in the global climate regime composed of a Board mandated to maintain a developing country majority and Least Developed Country seats. Although the World Bank was ultimately chosen as the Trustee of the AF and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) was designated as the Secretariat of the AF Board (a compromise after years of intense debate in the UN), the World Bank can only follow funding instructions emanating from the AF's Board while the GEF serves the AF Board only in a secretariat capacity.

Money provided bilaterally by donor countries to the AF ceases to become bilateral ODA once it enters the AF basin. The AF actually "launders" bilateral donor country contributions in the right way: by mixing bilateral contributions with proceeds from the CDM levy, and with a majority developing country Board that evaluates proposals based on Board-crafted requirements and processes, it strips away strings that might tie recipients of AF funds to conditions emanating from the funding source.

The AF actually has two modalities. One is the multilateral route, where a developing country accesses AF resources by going through Multilateral Implementing Entities (MIE) accredited by the AF, such as the World Bank and the UNDP. The other is the direct access route: through its designated National Implementing Entity (NIE), a developing country directly submits to the AF Board the country's adaptation funding proposal.

At its 9th Meeting on March 23-25 2010 in Bonn, Germany, the Adaptation Fund Board formally operationalized its much-touted Direct Access modality (3).  For the first time, the agreement made it possible for developing countries to obtain direct financial support from a multilateral climate fund without the need to take detours through the World Bank or similar multilateral funding institutions. Demands for “direct access” financing stem largely from extensively documented developing country frustrations with institutions such as the GEF and the World Bank.

With the confirmation of the legal capacity of the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) to discharge its functions (via CMP Decision 1/CMP.4, paragraph 11), the stage is now set to test the direct access modality of the Adaptation Fund. However, the future of the AF and its direct access modality is under threat: if the Kyoto Protocol (KP) is superseded by another agreement, or an agreement is not reached, for instance, it is unclear if the AF will continue to exist as a stand-alone fund or if it will be housed under the UNFCCC. It is likewise unclear if the feature that best distinguishes the AF from other climate funds - its direct access modality - will survive such developments. Clearly, the Philippines must continue to champion the Adaptation Fund in the international climate talks together with the establishment of the direct access modality in other climate funds that will be agreed in the future.

(1) Jessica M. Ayers and Saleemul Huq, "Supporting adaptation to climate change: what role for official development assistance?" paper delivered at the DSA Annual Conference 2008 ‘Development’s Invisible Hands: Development Futures in a Changing Climate.’ 8th November 2008, Church House, Westminster, London.
(2)"Spain contributes 45 million Euros to the Adaptation Fund," Adaptation Fund press release, 28 April 2010.
(3)“The AF is mandated to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The total amount of funds to be made available for eligible developing country Parties will depend on the market-based monetization of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) which are the AF's main source of revenue. Funding from other sources such as donations may also supplement the proceeds of the monetization of CERs.”
(4) World Bank press release: 10/08/2010

Photo by Reina/iCSC

Pushing for climate-change policies

Jeannie Javelosa
The Philippine Star
August 15, 2010

Sharing a conversation with Red Constantino will take you from the main issues of the times to the vision of a utopian future of sustainability and all the possible steps in between. And this is why I always enjoy talking to him. Not only is he a visionary but a radical for the stand of change. But it’s a smart radical that knows that once one makes a choice, one needs to work out the nuts and bolts of grounding that vision of change — from creating policies, to collaborative partnerships, to community development… in other words, to do all it takes to make that vision practical workable and to see clear key result areas.

Red Constantino is the executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), a non-profit organization working on sustainable energy solutions and fair climate policy. He and his colleagues in the ICSC, all former Greenpeace members, are working on helping create green and sustainable cities that address issues of climate change (waste treatment plants, depot for electric vehicles, biodigester plants to name a few essentials) with seed money from the Stichting Doen. The Doen Foundation’s advocacy is funding environmentally relevant and entrepreneurial and commercially viable sustainability projects that can be replicated. To date, ICSC’s focus has been on the ejeep and waste treatment facilities. ICSC introduced the electric jeep to the country.

Launched in 2007, the first units were made in China but within a year, the local industry association reacted positively. The Motor Vehicle Spare Parts Manufacturers of the Philippines made all the difference not only in assembling the ejeeps here but also spelt out the possibility for the long term success of the project as spare parts were now locally available and after sales service was answered. Makati City and Puerto Princesa in Palawan were the first cities who have adopted the ejeep; and are also both now looking at solutions for waste issues with ICSC.

ICSC’s next step was to help change policies: from creating routes, adding charging stations and looking towards expansion in Quezon City, San Juan, UP Diliman, Davao City and some cities in the Visayas. It’s a work in progress, Red tells me, as they are working slow but sure in trying to meet all the hurdles and challenges of making these solutions work to create more climate friendly cities.

The ICSC’s strategy is to act as catalysts to bring together various sectors in society to work on a “good idea.” What is clear to them is that focus is needed on policy work to promote adaptation activities against effects of climate change. The country will be hard hit as climate changes continue and there is a need to help in areas such as agriculture intervention for better farming methodologies so crops are spared, strategic urban planning to name a few.

Red talks about how there needs to be a clear country plan to bring in climate financing specific to adaptation. ICSC is intent on helping craft policy work with government in all levels to have clear steps to help the most vulnerable and impoverished Filipinos themselves (farmers, fisherfolks and urban poor women) who are already seeing great impact on climate changes in their lives. ICSC’s mission is to help government create a national climate action plan and help administer public finance at the soonest possible time to communities most vulnerable to increasingly severe climate change impacts.

Many donor countries offer funding for mitigation but not for adaptation. Adaptation strategies are often funded through loans and this is not the way for the country to go. He stresses that climate change will impact all aspects of our lives. We cannot just work on solutions reactively as what mitigation suggests, but rather, pro-actively create strategic plans for adaptation.

Red tells me of the failure of Copenhagen to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding deal on urgent mitigation and financing issues, and the possibilities of collapse of further international climate talks, which has left developing countries like the Philippines with little choice but to take local action. Meanwhile, government’s trench fighting and problem solving need to look at the existing skewed domestic actions towards wrong priorities with the sourcing (through loans), use (adaptation issues, a reactive process rather than pro-active planning which mitigation may allow us to do) and disbursement of foreign funding. It is crucial to take note of climate finance administration or all the money will just end up useless, or lost to corruption.

The ICSC, knowing that it is only government who can generate resources in a massive way, is actively working with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for the establishment of the National Survival Fund. This will help secure the long-term viability of Philippine development ambitions. It will democratize access to and create predictable, long-term finance streams for adaptation activities and climate-induced disaster preparedness programs. It will also prioritize areas in the country that require urgent adaptation support.

It is interesting to note that the Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia with a dedicated agency on climate change. The Climate Change Commission, created last year, is chaired by the President and assisted by three commissioners. Perhaps because it is new, plus the change of government leadership, this Commission has not been maximized. Red Constantino concludes “that the powers and responsibilities of this important body should be expanded, not just to implement projects, but to include a climate knowledge hub and lead the setting of long-term, climate-resilient development agenda. It should also monitor the amount, mode and use of climate finance accessed from abroad and locally.”

(Follow me on twitter @jeanniejavelosa)


First photo of redster by Luis Liwanag. Second redster pic with Anabanana by Romil. Photos by without redster, by redster.

We’re in Top Gear!

Top Gear 1_cropped.jpg
Editor's note: Steven Yu writes about stepping into the shoes of an eJeepney navigator in this month’s Top Gear magazine (August 2010 issue).  Grab a copy of the magazine’s 4th annual green issue now, featuring green, eco-friendly cars.

A Day in the Life: E-motionally enlightened

Behind the wheel of an e-jeepney, Steven Yu develops a better appreciation for our so-called kings of the road.

I have a personal belief that the best way to understand someone else’s perspective is to put myself in that person’s place, and it works.  For example, after I started riding a bicycle and a motorcycle more frequently as a form of alternative transport and environmental consciousness, I became more considerate to fellow cyclists and motorcyclists.  Of course, other cases, such as being considerate to the elderly and handicapped, shouldn’t require firsthand experience - one only needs a sense of decency.  For me, though, personal experience is always the most effective medium for learning.

My assignment on this day will then teach me a new perspective.  For one day in my life, I get to be the king of the road.  Well, sort of.  Instead of the hot, noisy, smoke-belching public-utility vehicles that earned jeepney drivers all over the country a title derived from notoriety rather than royalty, I will be driving an e-jeepney around its “Green Route” within Legaspi Village in Makati.

The e-jeepney is described by its manufacturer, Philippine Utility Vehicles, as an “electric mass-transport vehicle,” and it shares nothing except its seating layout with its antiquated, diesel-fed counterpart.  Its very first use was implemented by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), a Quezon City- based NGO directed by former Greenpeace environmental advocate Renato “Red” Constantino, and funded by both the Netherlands-based Stichting Doen Foundation and the local revenues generated from advertising space on the e-jeepneys.  This is in line with the Climate Friendly Cities (CFC) program, which is supported by the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines and Makati City, and consists of three components to complete the “green circle”: a charging station/electric –vehicle terminal; a biodigester facility to convert biodegradable household waste into electric power; and the electric vehicles themselves.

To date, two cities have been identified as flagship sites for this technology – our host, Makati, followed recently by Puerto Princesa in Palawan.  Being one of the pioneering partners in the CFC Project, Makati began construction of a biodigester facility in Magallanes last year, but the plant fell victim to typhoon Ondoy’s wrath, delaying its completion.  Puerto Princesa was spared this misfortune, and its biodigester facility is nearing completion.  There are currently 20 e-jeepneys operating within Makati – 10 quietly plying the Legaspi Village loop, and the other 10 doing the same for Salcedo Village.  They are intra-village shuttles, servicing roads off-limits to other public-utility vehicles.

Joining me for my e-jeepney experience is Jerome Palomar, iCSC’s operations head, who familiarizes me with the e-jeepney before I get behind the wheel.  For starters, the e-jeepney does not have the traditional nose or hood because its 5kW electric motor is as small as a beer keg and – since it doesn’t require liquid cooling – is mounted under the passenger-area floor.  It is mated to an ordinary four-speed manual transmission, but because an electric motor can generate maximum torque at zero rpm, shifting through the gears becomes unnecessary.  It will start smoothly in fourth gear, so the only gears used are fourth for moving forward, and reverse.

Jerome tells me that although the 12 batteries powering the e-jeepney look like normal 12-volt asphalt-type 2SM car batteries, they are actually six-volt deep-cycle units developed by Motolite specifically for this application.  Unlike its conventional counterpart, a deep-cycle battery can tolerate up to almost 80-percent discharge while still retaining normal function, making it ideal for electric vehicles.  They have a lifespan of about two years and are all replaced in one go at a cost of P55,000.

With the Magallanes biodigesting facility still offline, the Makati e-jeepneys have to rely on commercial electricity for recharging.  It takes eight hours at 2.5kW for a full recharge, which equates to approximately P160 at current electric rates.  This provides enough power to travel 55km – or roughly 17 times around the 3.2km Legaspi Village loop from 9am to 5:30pm. Unlike gasoline or diesel vehicles, the e-jeepney doesn’t consume any power while sitting in traffic because the motor doesn’t run at all, so running costs are constantly kept low – P2.90/km.  The most frugal diesel vehicles may cost as little as P1.75 to operate, but their emissions eventually make the case for electric alternatives.

As for the reception of regular jeepney drivers to the e-jeepney, they are more fascinated than threatened by it.  After all, at P625,000 per unit, e-jeepneys aren’t cheap to acquire or upgrade to.  Nor will the investment see a quick return, because one of its other benefits is free transport, so companies are encouraged to either advertise on an e-jeepney or “adopt” one to sustain the program.

After a quick briefing, its time for me to drive the e-jeepney around Legaspi Village with a Makati Public Safety Authority officer guiding me.  Setting off takes a little getting used to because the electric motor doesn’t make any noise.  The accelerator is light and, thankfully, requires some travel before the e-jeepney gently gets afoot.  Once under way, though, everything is familiar, but the brakes – in absence of a hydrovac – require more effort to activate.  Ventilation and visibility are great, and it’s surprisingly comfortable – cool, even, because the electric motor doesn’t generate the same heat as a diesel engine does.

Guided to my first designated e-jeepney stop, I delightedly pick up my first passengers, glancing quickly at the rear-view mirror to check if they’re seated before I set off again.  One passenger, Jay Segovia III, tells me: “I just park my car in Glorietta, then ride the e-jeepney going to my office.  I am reducing my carbon monoxide emissions by not using my car.  The e-jeepney is also free, and the driver has a wide knowledge of the area.”

Several stops later, I’m ferrying several passengers and feeling accomplished.  That is, until I hear the words, “Mama, sa tabi lang po.” I’m in between stops, so I have to find the nearest opening to pull aside.  The more my e-jeepney fills up, the more frequently I hear “para,” and it’s rapidly becoming one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.  I never saw the task of a jeepney driver from this perspective before, but having strangers entrust their lives to me – and returning that trust by getting them to their destinations – is both humbling and richly rewarding.

While there are still a lot of undisciplined jeepney drivers, I now imagine that the discomfort, the heat and the pressure to make their boundaries cause them to drive like they do.  But for the handful who do take their simple jobs to heart and drive responsibly, I now have more than just an understanding for them.  I envy them.

And you know what color that makes me.

Scanned images from August 2010 issue of Top Gear.
iCSC's climate finance initiative banner story in second largest Philippine newspaper

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines, July 17, 2010 - Before the May elections, the Arroyo administration used up the entire 150 million euros or roughly P10.5 billion of a French loan that Paris thought was for climate change mitigation – but the fund was used to plug the budget deficit.

Dominique Lebastard, economic counselor of the French embassy, announced last Wednesday the full disbursement of the loan from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in May or three months after the signing of the loan agreement in February.

In a press briefing, Lebastard said the loan was in support of the Philippines’ effort to protect the environment and mitigate effects of climate change.

Former Finance secretary Margarito Teves later told The STAR the loan was used for “budget support” to plug the government’s widening budget deficit of P325 billion.

“It was to plug the budget deficit and could not be attributed to the elections,” Teves said when asked whether the Arroyo administration violated election laws with the disbursement of the loan. He said the loan allowed the government to diversify its sources of funds.

Finance Undersecretary Rosalia de Leon explained that when a loan is used for budgetary support, it helps fund all projects of the government, including those related to environment protection.

“AFD’s first loan implemented by the Department of Finance worth 150 million euros or P10.5 billion was signed on Feb. 15, 2010 and was entirely disbursed by May 2010,” Lebastard said.

Government spending on infrastructure is not allowed during the election season. The country held national and local elections last May 10.

“AFD is supporting the Philippines in its fight against climate change and for environmental protection,” he said.

The AFD opened a local office in Manila in May.

The AFD said climate change complicates efforts to reduce poverty by causing increasingly frequent and serious damage in economically precarious areas, and underscores the need for a low-carbon development path.

Teves signed the agreement with AFD Asia Director Martha Stein-Sochas and French Ambassador Thierry Borja de Mozota.

Luc Le Cabellec, senior adviser of the Asia Department of the AFD, arrived in the Philippines in May to oversee the creation of AFD’s Manila office.

The office now facilitates the flow of official development assistance from France.

The AFD is a development finance institution established in 1941 to implement France’s Overseas Development Assistance policies.

Funding problems

Civil society groups, meanwhile, have called on the government to be cautious in dealing with institutions that offer funds for environment protection.

“The lack of national climate action plans has made the Philippines vulnerable twice over and this needs to change. The country is exposed to greater climate risks yet it is also vulnerable to predatory financing from funding institutions seeking profit from climate induced tragedy,” said Red Constantino of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC).

A report titled “Financing Adaptation or Funding Chaos,” released recently by the ICSC and Oxfam is calling for climate action through public finance.

The report revealed that over 54 percent of foreign climate funds have been programmed for mitigation activities while only 45 percent of the funds have gone to urgent adaptation measures.

Constantino said a public finance-driven climate action has already gained support from some political leaders like former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile.

Liberal Party spokesman and Quezon congressman Erin Tañada has said he is open to the idea.

“Among the first steps towards raising public funds for climate action is to scrutinize the national budget,” he said.

“We need to intensify demands for rich nations to scale up compensatory funding for impacts brought about by climate change. However, it is folly for the Philippines to rely only on the proliferation of finance pledges from developed countries,” the ICSC and Oxfam report said.

The report said the Aquino government must prioritize action on adaptation. It outlined a national adaptation agenda anchored on public finance.

The 30-page report is also asking concerned officials to “access untied finance from the Adaptation Fund, a non-donor-driven institution under the UN with funding modalities that allow developing countries to sidestep conditionality-heavy financing institutions such as the World Bank.”

“Adaptation should be declared as the national imperative,” said Oxfam climate campaigner Marie Madamba-Nuñez. Oxfam is a group of nongovernment organizations from three continents working worldwide to fight poverty and injustice.

“It is vital that new funds are mobilized and delivered to those least able to cope, such as small women shareholders in agriculture,” she added.

Recent figures provided by Oxfam showed that climate pledges from developed nations made during the December Copenhagen talks only amounted to $100 million.

The Philippines, meanwhile, only has P2.2 billion funding for climate change, P1.1 billion of which is intended for mitigation and the remaining P956 million for adaptation.

Oxfam and ICSC are also calling for the creation of a National Survival Fund “that will democratize access to and create predictable long-term finance streams for urgent adaptation and disaster-risk reduction projects and programs.”

“Rationalization and the immediate revision of the implementing rules and regulations of the Climate Change Commission should be considered urgent,” they added.

“The Commission needs to play a capacity-building, coordinative leadership role, primarily as the country’s lead climate action rating agency,” the report read. With Rhodina Villanueva - By Pia Lee-Brago and Iris Gonzales


Aquino administration urged to take urgent climate action through public finance

Manila (7 July 2009) — Civil society groups called on the Aquino administration today to take concerted action against what it described as "governance chaos" reigning over the administration of climate change-driven finance in the Philippines.

The call was made with the release of a report titled Financing Adaptation or Funding Chaos, by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and Oxfam which called for climate action through public finance. The report revealed over 54 percent of foreign climate funds have been programmed for mitigation activities while only 45 percent have gone to urgent adaptation measures. Worse, said the groups, most funds for adaptation have come in the form of loans.

The call for public finance-driven climate action has gained critical support from leading national personalities. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has embraced the cause, stating "National survival is at stake. Public finance measures that protect our ecosystems and future generations is urgent." At the House, Liberal Party spokesperson and congressman Erin Tañada said "Among the first steps towards raising public funds for climate action is to scrutinize the national budget."

"The lack of national climate action plans has made the Philippines vulnerable twice over and this needs to change," said Red Constantino of the iCSC. "The country is exposed to greater climate risks yet it is also vulnerable to predatory financing from funding institutions seeking profit from climate-induced tragedy."

The groups called on the government to mobilize domestic funds for long-term climate action. "We need to intensify demands for rich nations to scale up compensatory funding for impacts brought about by climate change. However, it is folly for the Philippines to rely only on the proliferation of finance pledges from developed countries," said iCSC and Oxfam.

The report said the Aquino government must prioritize action on adaptation. It outlined a national adaptation agenda anchored on public finance. The report called on the government to "access untied finance from the Adaptation Fund, a non-donor-driven institution under the UN with funding modalities that allow developing countries to sidestep conditionality-heavy financing institutions such as the World Bank."

"Adaptation should be declared as the national imperative," said Oxfam climate campaigner Marie Madamba-Nuñez. "It is vital that new funds are mobilized and delivered to those least able to cope, such as small women shareholders in agriculture," Nuñez said.

Oxfam and iCSC called for the creation of a National Survival Fund "that will democratize access to and create predictable long-term finance streams for urgent adaptation and disaster risk reduction projects and programs." The groups said "rationalization and the immediate revision of the implementing rules and regulations of the Climate Change Commission should be considered urgent." The Commission, said the groups, "needs to play a capacity-building, coordinative leadership role, primarily as the country's lead line agency and local government unit climate action rating agency." #

For inquiries, contact: Glenn Maboloc, Oxfam, 0928-5042911, Yvonne Caunan, Media Officer, Office of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, 0920-9835042, 552-6601 loc. 5554.


Green groups urge Aquino to review ‘skewed’ climate aid
07/08/2010 | 03:53 PM

Environment advocates have challenged the Aquino government to review financial packages for climate projects, saying majority of the funds are loans for reducing emissions instead of grants that will help Filipinos cope with climate change.

“The country is exposed to greater climate risks, yet it is also vulnerable to predatory financing from funding institutions seeking profit from climate-induced tragedy," said Red Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC).

He cited a study by the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR) that showed 54 percent of funds committed to climate change projects from 1992 to 2018 were earmarked for mitigation efforts, which is mainly the problem of industrialized nations and not developing countries like the Philippines.

“Governance chaos reigns over the administration of climate finance that has entered the Philippines," according to a summary of the report Financing Adaptation or Financing Chaos, which Constantino presented at a policy forum Wednesday.

“This has skewed domestic climate action towards the wrong priorities. More international climate finance has gone to mitigation efforts instead of adaptation activities," the report said.

“Worse, it appears most of the resources allocated for adaptation programs and projects have come in the form of loans."

Of $2.08 billion in climate funds, loans amounted to $1.078 billion compared to $1.006 billion in grants, according to the EMB-DENR study presented by Constantino. For adaptation projects, loans outpaced grants by more than $200 million.

Adaptation to the negative impact of changing weather patterns is a crucial issue for environmentalists, as typhoons annually devastate many parts of the Philippine archipelago. The trend has placed the country in the Top 10 of the most vulnerable nations worldwide that suffer from climate change in recent years.

Amendments to IRR

Constantino also pushed for amendments in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law that created the Climate Change Commission, saying the government should be coordinating efforts among various agencies instead of implementing projects.

He said the Commission could best serve as a “knowledge hub" for various groups engaged in climate change advocacy, especially in seeking financing for community and local government projects designed to protect vulnerable sectors such as women and rural villagers.

Climate Change Commissioner and former DENR Undersecretary Lucille Sering admitted she had not paid much attention when she signed the document and agreed with Constantino’s proposal, saying, “If it is not amended soon, I refuse to be part of the IRR."

She also stressed the need to work with government institutions such as the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, saying many of their staff are unaware of the Climate Change Act even though they play a critical role in climate finance negotiations.

“They have a bias for mitigation kasi iyon ang may returns," she said. Such projects often involve renewable energy efforts such as hydroelectric dams and methane recovery from waste.

“We are probably not insisting on the adaptation side," Sering added.

Last year, damage and losses from tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng (international names Ketsana and Parma, respectively) reached $4.38 billion, the equivalent to 2.7 percent of the country's total economic output, according to a study led by the World Bank.

National Survival Fund

Along with the aid group Oxfam, ICSC pushed for the creation of a National Survival Fund “that will democratize access to and create predictable long-term finance streams for urgent adaptation and disaster risk reduction projects and programs benefiting the most vulnerable, particularly women in agriculture."

Constantino said they have obtained the support of prominent legislators, including Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Liberal Party spokesman Rep. Erin Tañada for the initiative.

Former national treasurer Leonor Briones expressed support for the proposed fund but advised the climate campaigners to “be as detailed as possible" in making estimates on the budget needed to finance adaptation projects.

She also urged government and donor agency representatives who attended the forum to pool their resources for climate change projects, and for the private sector to upscale their efforts at the national level instead of limiting their social work to their base of operations.

“We can sing about the whales, we can write poems about trees, we can explore the love lives of mosquitoes but if we are not prepared to spend money for the environment, it’s all just poetry and songs," she said.

Instead of foreign funding, Briones said environment groups could exert pressure on the Aquino government to reduce the estimated “P100 billion in losses in exemptions and perks to the private sector" in order to increase the national budget.

She said climate campaigners have to pinpoint priority projects and “translate (them) into bite-sized, doable, and time-bound" programs that can be incorporated in the executive budget by August or the legislative development assistance fund by December.

“Laced with toxins"

Reacting to the fund proposal, Commissioner Sering said it would be “difficult" for their newly created office to coordinate financing efforts for climate projects. “We’re not yet capable of doing that at this point," she said.

Her colleague, Commissioner Yeb Saño, said their office lost its temporary personnel after the change in administration last June 30 and they are still waiting for directives from President Aquino, who chairs the Climate Change Commission under the law.

During the forum, Saño sided with the climate campaigners and said “financial flows from north to south are laced with toxins."

A former official of the environmental group WWF-Philippines, Saño said he was prepared to “arrest the chaos in the commission in climate funds" during his six-year term. –VS, GMANews.TV


Enrile supports stronger public finance for climate change
Press Release, Office of the Senate President, 07 July 2010

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has expressed a strong support for the call of civil society groups to take concerted action against what they described as "governance chaos" in connection with the administration of climate change-driven finance in the country.

At present, funds to prepare and assist our people for climate change impacts are limited, most often in the form of loans, and are difficult to secure, thus making us victims of exploitative traditional and unregulated financing mechanisms of large multinational banks and financing institutions.

"Addressing the serious issue of climate change requires substantial investment in new technologies, processes and services which are not only desirable, but also essential to the survival of our people, especially when faced with natural calamities caused by climate change," Senator Enrile emphasized.

Even while Congress passed the Climate Change Act of 2009, Enrile said that legislators should now undertake its review, in order to make a realistic assessment of risks and damages climate change may pose to the environment and, more importantly, to the security of our people. "We must also consider reviewing our priorities in terms of budget expenditure so that we can devote much-needed funds for mitigation activities and adaptation measures. At the same time, we must also explore alternative sources of funds for these programs." "Climate change is a complex, multi-faceted problem. Our efforts must give emphasis on public finance to enable the new government to move towards climate change adaptation."

Enrile issued the statement in support of the Forum on Climate Adaptation Financing in the Philippines organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

For inquiries, contact: Yvonne Caunan, Media Officer, Office of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, 0920-9835042, 552-6601 loc. 5554. #


Office of Lorenzo R. Tañada III
4th District, Quezon

07 July 2010

I wish to convey the support of my office to the public finance-driven climate action agenda proposed by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and Oxfam. My office has long supported urgent action on climate change, knowing the dire risks it poses to the future of the most vulnerable communities in the Philippines.

There are many approaches that our country can take with respect to the climate crisis.

One of the first steps Congress should take is to scrutinize the national budget and make sure that it responds to the needs of local governments and the poor as they face worsening climate impacts. My office is committed to lead the effort in crafting a climate-resilient national budget.
Measures to mitigate the rise in greenhouse gas emissions must be a key element in our country's strategy so long as it helps our economy and poor communities become more resilient to the increasingly severe impacts brought about by rapidly warming temperatures. However, with national interest as the operational imperative, adaptation must be elevated as the Philippine priority.

The country needs to confront the climate crisis together and as one. We need to build a strong alliance of champions in all levels of government. In the House, with the promise of new hope brought about by the Aquino administration, I shall help mobilize support for a lasting and effective climate action agenda.

Contact: Jessica Reyes-Cantos
Mobile: 0917 320 0007


Vice President Jejomar Binay rides the "B-Jeep" to inauguration
By Kris Pronto, iCSC
July 1, 2010

Well, our happy eJeepney fleet has again levelled up. This time, as the preferred vehicle chosen by no less than Philippine Vice President Jejomar C. Binay for the inauguration rites he shared with new Philippine President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III on June 30, 2010.

Below are clips of news stories about the historic ride. It's been great. (For those who came across news that the VP and the B-Jeep were late, we've also posted excerpts from the blog of the inauguration's spokesperson Manolo Quezon, who said the VP was on time, on cue, and displayed courtesy by waiting for President Aquino, who had arrived with the outgoing Gloria Arroyo, and who had alighted from his vehicle 20 minutes earlier than scheduled by the organizers, to finish his review of the troops at the Quirino Grandstand.)

Never has a statement about the need for sustainable transport been made so festively and eloquently. The Vice President could have selected to go in the usual gas-guzzling SUV or limousine, by tradition. Surely the luxury vehicle would have fitted the usual clutch of bodyguards and the VIP.

But it was history that was more important, one which the simple Philippine-made eJeepney helped to write, a vehicle that the Vice President, when he was still the mayor of Makati City not so long ago, helped champion.

So in he rode, in what has since been called the "B-Jeep", to honor the man elected by millions to the vice presidency, along with the Filipino of the moment, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. Once again, the celebrated artist Toym Abdulmari Imao crafted the new design, with the humble bee as the center of his theme an insect symbolizing the biodiversity risks confronting the planet as we move seemingly inexorably towards potentially irreversible climate change. The "B-Jeep" was manufactured in the vehicle plant of Philippine Utility Vehicle, Inc. (PhUV), the proud and leading builder of most eJeepneys plying the roads today, including eTrikes and eQuads.

No wang-wang or sirens blaring, however, for the VP. No smoke, no noise, in an electric public utility vehicle duly registered and with proper orange plates, unlike so many electric vehicles today. The "B-Jeep" is a product of Filipino ingenuity, and it proudly carried during the great moment Binay's selected "security" contingent for the day - boy scouts, senior citizens and students - constituencies which placed him to where he is today based on the promise of a better, more just and sustainable life. The lead "B-Jeep" was escorted along the way by, you guessed it, another "B-Jeep", led by iCSC operations chief Jerome Palomar.

As the windshield message on the "B-Jeep" proclaims, the journey of Vice President Binay is now nationwide and no longer confined to Metro Manila. "Biyaheng Pilipinas" is what it says, and it may as well be the message for the humble and happy eJeepney, whose time has certainly come.

However small the footnote is, history has been made. #

Editor's note: here are excerpts from some news items the day after the inauguration. We've had to shorten them of course, but if you're interested to read the entire piece of the selected stories, we've pasted the URL right below each of the news items. Happy reading!

More photos and stories here.


Note on the Inaugural, by Manolo Quezon, 30 June 2010:

"... The “President’s March” was played, a 21 gun salut boomed out, and President Arroyo proceeded to review the troops as the band played “Atin Cu Pung Singsing.”

"As the military honors were being given, the Vice President-elect’s special electric jeep arrived, and there’s been some undue controversy over this. Some people took it to mean the Vice President-elect barged in on the scene to steal the show.

"At the time, I thought it was bungling of the protocol; the Vice President-elect is supposed to arrive ahead of the President-elect (as has been the tradition since the 1949 Quirino Inaugural; at the Quezon inaugural in 1935 the President-elect arrived ahead of the Vice President-elect).

What seems to have happened was this. The Presidential Party arrived about twenty minutes ahead of schedule -and it was the Vice President-elect who actually arrived on cue.

"I noticed that what the Vice President-elect chose to do was the correct thing: he waited in his vehicle for the military honors to conclude, and with it, President Arroyo shaking hands with President-elect Aquino, and then getting into her private vehicle: at which point the President-elect went up to the ceremonial platform. Because of the circumstances surrounding the early arrival of the Presidential Party and the arrival of the Vice President-elect, it would have been unseemly for him to sprint up ahead of the President-elect; so he went up after the President-elect.

"All in all, it was a courteous solution to an unintended snafu."


VP Binay arrives in Quirino Grandstand on board 'B-Jeep'

QTV/GMA-7: "Binay to take E-Jeep on his way to inauguration" --

ABS-CBN: B-Jeep to transport Binay to his place in history --


Jejomar Binay takes oath as vice president, Sophia Dedace/RSJ, 06/30/2010 | 11:51 AM

Jejomar Cabauatan Binay formally took his oath of office as the Vice President of the Philippines at the Quirino Grandstand on Wednesday.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales swore him in while Binay's wife, Elenita, held a Bible on which the vice president placed his left hand.

Earlier, Binay arrived at the inaugural site on board a green electronic jeepney (e-Jeepney) that was labeled "B-Jeep." He came from the Manila Hotel.

In the recent May 10 elections, the former Makati City mayor received more than 14.6 million votes, only 727,084 votes ahead of closest rival Sen. Manuel Roxas II.

Roxas, President-elect Benigno Aquino III's running mate, was not seen at the inauguration rites at the grandstand....


Electric jeepney brings Binay to inauguration
Jose Rodel Clapano, The Philippine Star, July 01, 2010

MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay arrived for his inauguration at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta in a battery-operated electric jeepney (BE-Jeepney).
At a press conference in the house of his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay after the inauguration, the elder Binay said riding in a BE-jeepney with members of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP), students, nurses, medical sector representatives and senior citizens was his way of expressing his commitment to help solve the environmental problems facing the country.

“I used a BE-Jeepney because it is a big opportunity to show our concern with environmental problems facing our country. It is not needed in the provinces because pollution is lesser there. We need to encourage the use of BE-Jeepney in Metro Manila,” he said.

Like President Aquino, Binay took his oath before Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales with his wife Dra. Elenita Binay holding the Bible.

He said Mr. Aquino’s inaugural speech was very “presidentiable.”

He said he might be visiting towns and cities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao three times a week in order to have direct consultation with the LGUs and help them get funds from the private sector to enable them to effectively implement programs.


Czarina Nicole Ong & JC Bello Ruiz, TEMPO, 01 July 2010

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay rode an electrical jeepney (e-jeepney) on his way to his oathtaking ceremony Wednesday.

Riding the short distance from the historic Manila Hotel toward the Quirino Grandstand, the Vice President used the inauguration as a unique opportunity to showcase to the world the ingenuity of Filipinos, especially since millions of viewers worldwide were glued to their television sets to witness the oath-taking.

The e-jeepney, which was launched in 2007, runs purely on electric power engine instead of diesel engine. Binay, while still Mayor of Makati City, was one of the first to drive the vehicle.

The vehicle boasts of an attractive green color splashed with an artwork reading “B-Jeep”, which stands for “Binay Jeep”. Its battery was charged for a total of eight hours before going to the park.

Not allowing themselves to be drowned in a “sea of yellow”, Binay supporters waved orange flags and popped orange umbrellas during the inauguration rites.

Orange is the campaign color of Binay and his defeated presidential bet, former President Estrada who also witnessed the occasion.

Other Binay supporters waved PDP-Laban yellow flags. Binay heads the PDP-Laban political party, the original party of President Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.

Though he ran under Estrada’s banner, Binay considers himself a “Cory boy” as he once served as one of the members of the late resident’s so-called Yellow Army in 1986.


Binay shares oath ceremony with P-Noy
Philippine Information Agency Press Release, 2010/06/30

Manila (30 June) -- Vice President Jejomar Binay took his oath of office today also before Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales minutes before President Benigno "P-noy" C. Aquino III was sworn in by the lady magistrate at 12 noon at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park in Manila.

Binay placed his hand on top of the Holy Bible held by his spouse, former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay, as he recited his constitutional pledge after Justice Morales.

After the simple oath taking ceremony, Binay was congratulated by President Aquino, family members and other officials including former President Joseph Estrada.

Prior to their high-noon oath taking, Binay first heard mass at the Manila Cathedral early in the morning. From the cathedral, Binay proceeded to the Manila Hotel until he was given a go-signal to proceed to the Quirino Grandstand...

When then President-elect Aquino and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo left Malacanang for inaugural rite, Binay rode on board a Makati-made electric jeepney in going to the Luneta Grandstand. (OPS)


Aquino, Arroyo convoys get in way of Binay’s e-jeep
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 02:22:00 07/01/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Dapper in a crisp barong Tagalog, Vice President Jejomar Binay rode Wednesday into what he called the next chapter of his life in a battery-powered jeepney to show his concern for the environment.

Too bad. Five fuel-guzzling SUV’s carrying the outgoing and incoming Presidents intruded into Binay’s programmed scene-stealer. With sirens blaring, the presidential motorcade beat Binay’s puny convoy of two electric jeeps to the inauguration at Quirino Grandstand.

“We are now going to start a new chapter in our service to the country,” Binay said in between handshakes and picture taking at the Manila Hotel lobby hours before the grandstand event....

‘I’ll be there’

Binay, who served for more than 20 years as Makati City mayor, was asked what his expectations would be for his first 100 days in office as vice president.

“I’ve been always saying that I’ll be there and be of help and more than that to continue the special relations perhaps between the Aquino and Binay families,” he said.

... Binay slept at the hotel on the eve of his inauguration. Before dressing up for the event, Binay went to Manila Cathedral to pray. “I just asked the Lord to always guide us in the things that we will do,” he said.

“The Vice President gives way to the President. In any context, that is always the case” said Binay’s spokesperson Lito Anzures. “No harm done at all.”

Binay said taking the jeepney to the nationally televised event was “a big opportunity to show the commitment of the country to the concern about problems regarding the environment.”

Environmentalist Red Constantino, an advocate of the battery-operated vehicle, drove Binay to the inauguration venue. Electric jeeps are now plying public transport routes in Makati City.

Constantino himself was involved in a minor discussion with inaugural organizers when he was told to move the jeep on the driveway while he was waiting for Binay to move out from the hotel lobby.

The coaster of Mr. Aquino’s sisters and other family members at first couldn’t move to pick them up and to leave the driveway because of the jeeps. Constantino later acceded and the coaster eventually managed to leave the premises. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.


The Philippines welcomes President "P-Noy"
Posted on June 30th, 2010, Blogger News Network
by Nancy Reyes in All News, Asian News, Breaking News,

The Philippines inaugurated a new president yesterday: President Benigno Aquino III, the son of the late President Cory Aquino and the son of a martyr to our democracy, Benigno Aquino II.

The day was declared a holiday, and over half a million folks turned out for the inauguration ceremony, despite the fact that it rained all morning.

Here in the provinces, there was rejoicing too: locals are hoping that the new president will bring relief from the widespread corruption and make more jobs available here, so their children aren’t forced to migrate to Manila or overseas to find a good paying job.

There was a bit of a mix-up at the start: Vice President Binay came in late: he traveled in an electric jeepney, but was held up by the other bigshots in their cars. Here, the President runs with a VP pick on the party ballot, but you vote for them separately, and Binay was the VP choice for still popular ex President Estrada; but commentators were eager to point out that the reason he was late was not a breech of protocol but because the cars of the big shots delayed “ordinary” traffic.

Everyone was there, many wearing the Yellow of the People Power revolution of his mother. Ex president Estrada, a populist who lost this election to Aquino, sent him good wishes and attended, as did ex President Ramos. Our lovely ex president Gloria Arroyo was there too but she left early. Her choice lost badly, and there are some worries that a new administration will root out the suspected widespread corruption under her administration. However, as the newly elected Senator from her home district, she could be in a position to block this. Ironically, the Marcos clan also sent good wishes and promises to cooperate with the new President (Marcos is widely thought to be behind the assassination of the President’s late father).

Here in the Philippines, everyone has a nickname, and the President, who is commonly called “NoyNoy” (to distinguish him from his father “Nino”) has asked the press to call him “P-Noy” instead. “P-Noy” is of course pronounced “Pinoy”,the nickname for the average Filipino.

The new President is carrying the hopes that he will root out corruption and stop the widespread “extrajudicial killings” of reporters and activists and political rivals. The slowness of the courts in dispensing justice is notorious, and although most of these delays are due to an overburdened court system, many suspect political influence or “gifts” sometimes contribute to the delays. And, alas, the delays allow witnesses to go underground (under a false name, overseas, or sometimes literally underground)...

But hope springs eternal: folks hope President Aquino will root out corruption and bring in jobs. His personal integrity is not in question, but he lacks a dynamic personality; he hasn’t even been able to persuade his extended family to allow land reform, so how will he fare against more ruthless political manipulation, especially with our lovely ex president Gloria now in the Senate and able to thwart his every move?

But that is tomorrow. Yesterday it was rejoicing at the inauguration and last night, it was a huge street party rejoicing with the new president.

Remember to wear your souvenir tee shirt and put your NoyNoy bobble-head doll on the dashboard of your car or jeepney. Hope springs eternal, and maybe, just maybe, this time we will get a true reformer as president.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket