House chief Velasco backs declaration of climate emergency here

Published November 29, 2020, 1:31 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

After witnessing the effects of typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses” first hand, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco backed Sunday the declaration of a climate emergency over the country.

Rampaging floodwaters inundate residential areas beside the national highway in Barangay Kisante, Makilala, North Cotabato following Thursday afternoon’s (Aug. 6, 2020) heavy downpour spawned by a low-pressure area in Mindanao. Locals managed to save two minors swept by the flash flood. (Photo courtesy of DXND-Kidapawan via PNA/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Rampaging floodwaters inundate residential areas beside the national highway in Barangay Kisante, Makilala, North Cotabato (Photo courtesy of DXND-Kidapawan via PNA/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“Declaring a climate emergency means recognizing that climate crisis is the fight of our lives and that there is an urgent need for a massive-scale mobilization to protect Filipinos and the environment from climate change and its devastating impacts,” Velasco said in a statement.

According to the Marinduque lawmaker, the Philippines has been facing climate emergency for decades now with millions of Filipinos left to suffer the catastrophic effects of extreme weather events made stronger and more deadly by climate change.

He said this is the reason why the Philippines is considered as one of the most disaster-prone and climate-vulnerable countries in the world.

Velasco said the massive devastation caused by recent typhoons –including Rolly and Ulysses which claimed 73 lives and caused the worst flooding in Metro Manila and Cagayan Valley in years – has made it imperative for the country to pursue stronger climate-adaptive and -resilient measures.

“There will be more typhoons that will come our way, and we have to become better at preparations and in handling situations that call for sound judgment to prevent devastating death tolls and economic costs of future calamities,” he said.

The House of Representatives had earlier unanimously adopted a resolution endorsed by the Committee on Climate Change to declare a climate and environmental emergency.

House Resolution (HR) No.1377 also sought to mobilize government agencies and instrumentalities, together with local government units, to effectively implement environmental, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

The House Committee on Disaster Resilience has adopted HR No.535 expressing the sense of the legislative body that there is a disaster climate emergency requiring a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society, and whole-of-nation policy response to anticipate, halt, reduce, reverse, address, and adapt to its impacts, consequences and, causes.”

Velasco said the declaration of a climate emergency would amplify the country’s demand for climate justice from developed nations and help achieve its goals under the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The Paris Agreement calls all signatory countries to submit stronger climate targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, every five years. 

The NDCs state what each country will do at a national level to reduce emissions, enhance their resilience to climate change threats, and help finance climate action.