Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has underscored the urgency of the national and local governments working together to improve the resilience to climate change of communities most vulnerable to extreme weather events.
To help national and local governments address this urgent need, Dominguez said the government has set up the People’s Survival Fund (PSF), which, he said, may not be enough to meet the country’s requirements in mitigating the impact of climate change but is still a “far-sighted initiative to help reduce disaster risks and improve the resilience of our communities.”
“The threats posed by climate change are very real. Humanity needs to exert every effort to mitigate global warming and strengthen our capacity to meet disasters brought about by extreme weather events. Every effort counts,” said Dominguez at the signing ceremony of the financing agreements between the PSF Board and selected local government units (LGUs) held Wednesday at the Department of Finance (DOF) main office in Manila.
The PSF Board, chaired by Dominguez, has identified four LGUs as the initial beneficiaries of the Fund. These are the local governments of: 1) Lanuza, Surigao del Sur, 2) Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte, 3) San Francisco, Camotes Island in Cebu and 4) Gerona, Tarlac.
According to Dominguez, all four PSF-funded projects to be implemented by these LGUs will involve counterpart financing on their part, both to boost the scale of the projects as well as encourage prudence in the disbursement of the funds provided to them.
“We look forward to more capacity building projects like the ones we are signing today. We will maintain vigilance against all threats posed by climate change and global warming. That is our common responsibility,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the PSF Board will closely monitor the projects and expect to draw lessons from the way LGUs execute them and build resiliency in their respective localities.
“These lessons will enlighten future projects intended to reduce the vulnerability of our communities most exposed to severe weather events,” he said.
Further underscoring the urgency of anticipating and preparing for the harmful effects of climate change, Dominguez recalled that just last week, it was reported that the temperature of Northern Europe became colder than the temperature in the North Pole. This, according to climatologists, was caused by the relatively warmer air flowing up through Greenland that could not be cooled as a result of the recession of the ice caps in the North Pole.
“This is a dangerous development, I thought. It has huge consequences especially for the island economies in the tropics such as ours,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez pointed out that if the ice in the polar regions continue to melt at alarming rates as what is happening now, many small islands will be in danger of sinking. Severe weather conditions will further worsen that will then begin a long chain of events harmful to many communities, particularly coastal areas and small islands, he said.
He said the PSF, which was created by Republic Act No. 10174, aims to help vulnerable communities prepare for such adverse climatic events.
The four projects covered by the financing agreements signed between the PSF Board and the beneficiary LGUs are the following:
1) the project on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Response as an Adaptation Mechanism to Resiliency in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur with PSF funding of P39.08 million and LGU funding of P8.41 million;
2) the Siargao Climate Field School for Farmers and Fisherfolk in Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte (PSF funding, P80.7 million; LGU, P12.8 million);
3) Building Resilience through Community-Based Ecological Farming in San Francisco, Camotes Island in Cebu (PSF, P33.89 million; LGU, P2.17 million); and
4) Promoting Resiliency and a Climate-Informed Gerona in Gerona, Tarlac, (PSF, P38.1 million; LGU, P17.63 million).
The total amounts requested from the PSF for these four projects totaled P191.74 million, while the LGUs provided counterpart funding of P41.01 million combined.
In his capacity as PSF Board chair, Dominguez signed the financing agreements between the PSF Board and the LGUs, which were represented by Mayors Salvacion Saloma Alarcon of Lanuza, Alfredo Coro II of Del Carmen, Aly Arquillano of San Francisco, and Victor Gerald Castañeda, who represented Mayor Eloy Eclar of Gerona.
Besides Dominguez, the PSF Board members present at the signing ceremony were National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon, the alternate PSF Board chairperson; PSF vice chairperson and executive director Emmanuel de Guzman of the Climate Change Commission; Undersecretary Luz Cantor of the Department of Budget and Management; Deputy Director Cecile Gutierrez of the Philippine Commission on Women; Dr. Rex Cruz representing the academe; Peter Perfecto from the business sector; and Renato Redentor Constantino from the non-government sector.
With a programmed annual fund of at least P1 billion in the National Treasury, the PSF is intended to fund climate change adaptation projects of LGUs and accredited community organizations.
This fund is on top of the annual appropriations allocated to LGUs for climate-change related programs and projects.
Among the activities eligible for funding by the PSF are projects on water resources management, land management, agriculture and fisheries, and health, and other activities that serve as guarantee for the risk insurance needs for farmers, agricultural workers and other stakeholders.