Climate change body whipped at Senate: ‘Very little to show’ except for int’l travels
MANILA, Philippines — Senators lashed at the Climate Change Commission (CCC) for its lack of progress over the past 13 years.
Even the senator who sponsored the CCC’s 2023 budget in the plenary, Imee Marcos, was dissatisfied with the body’s performance, citing concerns about its mediocre record since its 2009 founding, with the exception of its significant international travel.
“This body has been in existence for 13 years, and indeed has very little to show except for international travel and its carbon footprint,” she said Wednesday, noting that the CCC has a record of 20 travels from April to November this year.
Senate Pro Tempore Loren Legarda asked the CCC for a post-trip report on each trip because she was unaware of them.
“I will put a special provision that all travels of staff, technical advisers, consultants, and commissioners will have a post-travel report sent to the body for senators to learn from. I think that should apply not just to the CCC, but all agencies and executive departments so that whatever conferences they attend can be used for policy,” she added.
Marcos likewise pointed out a “mere 18 percent accomplishment” in the CCC’s mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts to local government units (LGUs).
For the CCC to improve its “dismal” results, Legarda suggested shifting focus.
“Perhaps instead of traveling abroad, where we even spread too much carbon footprint, we should focus on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation and mitigation to every LGU,” she said.
Legarda added: “The 18 percent, if that’s accurate, that’s quite dismal. We should increase it right away, after all you’ve been there for more than ten years.”
Marcos further prposed an audit of the CCC’s unexpended People’s Survival Fund (PSF) worth P1 billion, which was initially released last 2015.
“To date, P690 million remains with the CCC unexpended. Pera na, naging bato pa (Money was not managed properly),” she detailed.
The PSF is intended to help LGUs and other community organizations implement climate change adaptation and mitigation projects.
Asked for the reasons behind the underutilized PSF, Marcos said this remains an unanswered question.
“We’ve asked that year in and year out. We’ve always derived the same answer, stating that whereas the funds are with them, the Department of Finance has taken over its management and since 2017, nothing has been granted,” she said.
The senator noted, however, that this “is not entirely true” since a P93-million project in Sarangani was still granted in 2018.
“Akala ko sarado na noong 2017, bakit noong 2018 nag-approve pa sila? Kaya dapat siguro i-audit dahil malabo iyong libro nila eh (I thought this was closed in 2017, why were they still able to approve a project in 2018? That’s why we should audit this because their books are not clear),” she further said.
Despite the mounting issues raised about the CCC’s performance, its proposed P128-million budget for 2023 still secured the Senate’s approval at the plenary level.
Legarda, however, said she would later raise her concerns about the CCC in a privilege speech after they have concluded the series of Senate budget hearings.