Tolentino seeks budget guarantee for climate change initiatives in 2022

Published November 11, 2021, 2:44 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Dismayed by the miniscule allocation for climate change in the 2022 national budget, Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino on Thursday, Nov. 11 said the next year’s General Appropriations Act (GAA or national budget) should include climate change initiatives that would help fulfill the country’s international commitments.

During the Senate debate on the proposed 2022 P5 trillion budget, Finance Committee chairman Senator Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ M. Angara said the GAA has earmarked a substantial amount for climate change expenditures of departments such as Agrarian Reform, Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs and Health.

“ The Philippines plans to lead climate change response and mitigation but its budget is miniscule,” Tolentino said, adding the amount could not support the commitments made by Finance Secretary Carlos ‘’Sonny’ G. Dominguez III at the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

”The climate change summit will end tomorrow (Nov 12) and there will be commitments and signing activities that would implicate not just promissory initiatives on the part of the Philippine government but real tangible commitments, such as the budgetary making process,” he added.

Tolentino, chairperson of the Committee on Local Governments, reminded concerned government officials that international commitments, once ratified by the Senate, would form part of the laws of the land.

“I endeavor the career members of the Cabinet economic cluster to take that in mind as you move along even though this is a swan song, that there will be commitment to have a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050,” Tolentino said.

He said notable contributions coming from the Philippine government would have to be made, especially when it comes to cutting methane emissions by 30 percent by this decade and halting deforestation.

Once this budget is approved, Tolentino said it would be up to the different line agencies to implement the international commitments entered into by the Philippines, including during COP26.

Tolentino also called on Angara to intervene and ask the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to include in its circulars on implementation of the Mandanas ruling climate change initiatives by the local government units on the ground.

Angara agreed, saying “They have made it part of their local budget memorandum for LGUs because under the Climate Change Act, they are mandated to come up with local climate change action plan.”