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Drilon: Senate won’t ratify Paris Agreement

THE SENATE will no longer ratify the historic Paris Agreement on climate change following President Duterte’s pronouncement that he would not honor the covenant, outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Tuesday.

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Drilon recognized that Duterte, as “architect” and principal actor” of the country’s foreign policy, had the prerogative not to honor the agreement if he thought it was not consistent with the national policy.

“If he does not send to the Senate the treaty for ratification, then it is not binding on our country. That is a policy that his administration has adopted,” said the Senate leader.

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Drilon was reacting to Mr. Duterte’s statement his administration would not honor the Paris Agreement as this would restrict economic growth and development of the Philippines.

The President blamed developed countries for emissions that destroyed the climate.

Under the agreement, 195 nations promised last December in Paris to cut down carbon emissions to contain global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, at which point an increase in Earth’s temperature would be irreversible. The deal pegged global efforts to limit the increase in temperature to 1.5 C above preindustrial levels.

The Philippines, among the nations worst affected by extreme weather events caused by climate change, had lobbied hard for the agreement to finally be signed in April after several failed negotiations. It was signed by more than 170 countries.

The Philippines has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 70 percent in 2030.

 

Honor contracts

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Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who oversaw the Philippines’ bid for a climate pact during his time at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) hopes Mr. Duterte would revisit his earlier statement on honoring contracts.

“I think that President Duterte earlier had said the Philippines would be maintaining the sanctity of contracts. I think that was a contract. It (Duterte’s statement) may have been an informal one, but I think he should rethink that,” Del Rosario said on the sidelines of a Makati City forum.

Drilon said that if the country’s next leader adopted another policy then, there was still a chance that the treaty could be ratified by the chamber and “then it becomes part of the law of the land.”

No Senate ratification

“But as of today, the President has decided that he will not ratify the treaty and the Senate has no opportunity to concur in the ratification,” Drilon said.

He likened Duterte’s position to that of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, who insisted that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States was not a treaty, which does not require the concurrence by the Senate.

“Similarly in this case, President Duterte has said that it is not consistent with his national policy that the public would concur in the treaty. That is where we are today. That is the policy of the Duterte administration,” Drilon said.

Loren’s no comment

“That is valid considering that at least during his administration … there will no be ratification of the treaty. The Senate will not be called upon to concur in the ratification,” he further said.

Sen. Loren Legarda, cohead of the Philippine delegation to the Paris Agreement signing ceremony at the United Nations in April, said she would rather wait for the official declaration of the DFA before commenting on Duterte’s pronouncements.

“I have no comment until such time that the DFA has made an official declaration,” Legarda said.

 

Good intentions

She has been the most vocal among lawmakers on climate change, vowing in April to push the Philippines and other disaster-prone nations to ratify the Paris pact by rallying both the executive branch and the legislature behind the agreement, and campaigning at the grassroots level.

In Sta. Cruz, Zambales, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said Mr. Duterte had good intentions for not honoring the Paris Agreement.

“I haven’t talked to him (President) yet, but I’m sure he has good reasons for [making that decision],” Lopez told reporters after speaking in a forum organized by antimining advocates.

Lopez said: “The environment is his concern, too … People should not worry about it because I’m sure the President decides what’s good for the country.”

Lopez visited this mining town to listen to a clamor from residents for an end to what they described as “destructive” mining activities in the town.

Sta. Cruz is host to four mining operations, which Lopez recently suspended for failing to comply with environmental safety standards.

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TAGS: Franklin Drilon, Nation, News, Paris Agreement on climate change, Rodrigo Duterte, Senate
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