Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bong D. Fabe

CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Feb. 18, 2011—Among the vulnerable sectors to climate change in Philippine society the agriculture sector is the most defenseless and exposed, which is why farmers have joined the clamor for the immediate passage of the “Depensa” Bill or the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) Bill (H.B. 3528).

The PSF Bill is an important climate change mitigation measure that will strengthen the Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729) and the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121), both important measures that seek to protect communities from the impact of climate change.

Joselito Tambalo, president of Kalikasan NE and the Pambansang Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Likas-Kayang Pananakahan (SAKAHAN), said that the PSF is an important piece of legislation because it will fund programs, including agricultural programs, before disaster strikes.

But more importantly, PSF will help farmers get back on their feet once disaster brought about by the whims of climate change damages their crops.

“Makakatulong ang PSF sa mga magsasaka dahil ang mga probisyon nito ay siyang magbibigay nga mga programa sakaling ang mga pananim ng mga magsasaka ay masira dahilan sa climate change (The PSF is a big help to farmers because it will fund programs in case our crops are destroyed by climate change),” he said.

SAKAHAN is a federation of farmers for sustainable agriculture while KALIKASAN-NE, which was founded by 64 farmers, aims at developing sustainable rice-based organic agriculture through the provision of technical assistance, training of new members and making inputs such as chicken manure and rice seedlings available to farmers to help considerably reduce the production costs of rice while increasing the net income of farmers.

Elvira Baladad, council member of the Pambansang Konseho ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), said that aside from farmers, climate change also victimizes poor rural women, who in Philippine rural society bear the brunt of supporting their family.

“Ang mga kababaehan sa kanayunan ay naaapektuhan nga pagbabago-bago nga panahon. Dapat meron silang angklahan para ng sa ganun kung dumating man ito at sila ay maapektohan sila ay merong matatakbuhan upang kanilang maibangon ang kanilang dignidad bilang mga kanbabaehan sa kanauyan(Women are also victims of climate change and they need support during disasters. It will preserve their dignity and stature as women of the community),” she said.

PKKK is a coalition that represents a wide network of national- and provincial-based organizations and federations that are active in the agrarian reform, rural development and democratization, and women's movements.

Among PKKK’s advocacy programs are agrarian reform, fisheries, indigenous women, water, women-friendly support services, microfinance, sustainable agriculture, sectoral representation and participation in gender and development programs in the local communities, reproductive health, and violence against women.

Recently, PKKK formed an environmental cluster to pursue issues on climate change and its impact on rural women and rural development.

Both Tambalo and Baladad said that “PSF matters the most for farmers” like them, which is why “passing the PSF bill means that farmers’ livelihood is being protected from the whims of a changing climate.”
Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III, principal author of the PSF Bill, said that “the PSF can help poor men and women farmers build their resilience to the likes of the recent spate of flooding that destroyed crops and now threatens our national food security.”

“Climate change does not only affect the vulnerable sectors. Everyone is affected. Our economy is dealt huge losses especially those communities deemed most vulnerable,” he said in underscoring the importance of the early passage of the PSF bill.

The PSF Bill recently passed the first reading. It is now with the Technical Working Group, which will review it and then submit it for second reading.

According to Tanada, RA 9729 is not enough because it does carry finance provisions.

“Without finance, sometimes the best initiatives go for naught,” he stressed.

The PSF Bill will establish a P2-billion fund for Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) projects in the local communities to be coursed through the local government units (LGUs). Climate change adaptation refers to activities and projects that would increase disaster risk resiliency of vulnerable communities.

It will be sourced from domestic public funds as well as international public finance. Among the domestic sources of the fund will be the 10 percent of the cash dividends of government- owned and controlled corporations, a portion of the proceeds of carbon trading through the clean development mechanism set-up by the Kyoto Protocol and a portion of the motor vehicle users charge.

The passage of the PSF is an initiative of the DEPENSA campaign, which calls on the government to make the defense of Filipinos against climate change a national priority. DEPENSA is a joint undertaking of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), artists’ collective Dakila, and international non-profit Oxfam.

We racked up billions of pesos in destroyed rice crops during Typhoon Juan. What will happen if we are continuously hit by typhoons? We need to set up projects that will protect our food sources. Offense is the best defense. We urge the President to pass the PSF and cushion Filipinos from the blows of climate change,” said Renato Redentor “Red” Constantino III, iCSC executive director.

Constantino said that most of the deadliest and damaging typhoons that hit the Philippines occurred in the last two decades, with an estimated cost of over P92 billion in direct damages. According to the Department of Agriculture, the value of lost crops due to Typhoon Juan last year is P10.59 billion.

If enacted into law, the PSF will allocate predictable and regular government funding for local plans in response to creeping climate change, from sea level rise to increasing temperatures. #

Photo by redster/iCSC

Original CBCP story here





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