OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III

Released during the Public Dialogue by Aksyon Klima
Pilipinas with the Climate Change Commission
and received 29 Nov 2013, by Malacanang Records Office

H.E. BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III
President
Republic of the Philippines

Dear Pres. Aquino:

We are Aksyon Klima Pilipinas (AKP), an umbrella of 40 national networks and organizations advocating for the inclusion of the climate change framework in our planning and programs particularly in the areas of adaptation, mitigation, climate finance and technology transfer. Our constituency is composed mainly of non-government organizations that work with local government units and peoples’ organizations to ensure that they are prepared for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; while others are engaged in policy advocacy with the national agencies particularly the Climate Change Commission. A few are engaged in the international negotiations through the Philippine delegation and have championed for the Philippine cause since the 1990’s.

Your winning the 2010 elections gave us fresh hopes of a more transparent and trustworthy administration with your promise of “matuwid na daan”. Your landmark framework of inclusive sustainable development is laudable considering that we as a people have long witnessed the unequal distribution of wealth leading a few to grow richer and a large number grow poorer. Your social contract paved the way for more people to hope that one day we will be a better country, not just in statistics but also in actual reality.

It is because of this that civil society rallied behind your cause because we are hungry for true reforms in government. AKP firmly believes that government is a means to do good and to include everyone in its march for progress and sustainable development. More importantly AKP believes that our progress, our sustainable development should already be anchored in the reality of climate change.

As head of the Climate Change Commission, it falls square on your shoulders the clear vision of bringing this country towards a future that is ready to face the impacts of the climate change. It is also your strong political will that will create the necessary momentum to ensure that we are on the right path in addressing climate change impacts.

The first half of your administration saw promising breakthroughs for the environment and climate change resiliency of our country.

1. You ordered a moratorium on tree-cutting activities and institutionalized a national greening program that is unparalleled since the Republic was born.

2. You declared during the launch and turnover of the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) from the Department of Energy (DoE) in 2011 that the government aims to achieve 50 percent sustainable renewable energy by 2030.

3. You signed into law the People’s Survival Fund, the country’s first legislated adaptation finance mechanism dedicated to supporting early adaptive action plans and programs by local government & communities.

4. More importantly, you unveiled the 18-year climate plan called the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) in 2011. This was hailed as one of the most ambitious and comprehensive plan in relation to the country’s development. The NCCAP has identified seven strategic priorities—food security, water sufficiency, ecosystem and environmental stability, human security, climate-smart industries and services, sustainable energy and knowledge and capacity development.

This year, 2013 marks the midterm of your administration. As it is often said the second half of a president’s term is his legacy-forming years.

However, your pronouncements during your State of the Nation’s Address and the subsequent government actions show a dismantling of several of the abovementioned milestones.

1. You declared that from then on, coal fired power plants shall be built and according to the latest data, seventeen (17) coal powered fire plants are in the pipeline. This is a complete negation to your declaration in the NREP that the goal is to achieve 50% sources for renewable energy by 2030.

It should be clear after the ravages of Typhoon Yolanda that the coal option is suicidal. It is true that we contribute far less emissions compared to the US or China, but it is also true that embracing the coal option means we would be a willing party to our own demise. Let Yolanda be remembered as the event that caused the Philippine government to rethink its energy pathways. In addition, it is becoming increasingly apparent that keeping to coal will threaten the long-term economic viability of livelihoods and Philippine industries — more and more countries, including no less than the US and China, have begun to reduce their dependence and have started veering away from coal as they reformulate their long term energy strategies.

Considering energy security and the generation of green jobs that come with the rapidly expanding renewable energy industries this will facilitate a strategic transition to renewable energy. All factors – global climate change impacts, international redirection in energy choices in favor of the creation of green jobs and long-term protection from oil and coal price volatility, the provision of national energy security, and avoidance of local pollution and hazards – all point to a future for the Philippines beyond coal. Grab this historic moment, Mr. President!

2. The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the People’s Survival Fund remains unsigned. Moreover, the said fund, which will ensure that our local communities can tap new and additional sources of funding for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction plans and program, remains empty. Local governments in Luzon Visayas and Mindanao need this fund, which is dedicated to supporting the climate action plans of localities rather than ineffective, clumsy cookie-cutter centralized national programs. Just as you signed the People’s Survival Fund into law, so you can now sign the IRR into being. It is time to make the Fund that you wisely enacted operational!

3. With regard to the NCCAP, do not reduce its ambition; increase it! Moreover, ensure that it is not a stand-alone document — other agencies need to have ownership of the plan. We urge you to instruct your Climate Change Commissioners to more closely and meaningfully engage strategic agencies so that they bear greater ownership of the country’s national climate change action plan. Instruct agency heads and the CCC to plan and execute plans together.

It is because of this that we raise our collective voice and call on you to take seriously the climate proofing of government plans and programs. We, therefore, submit our demands:

1. Protect our environment and ensure that our natural resources are used for our sustainable development through their proper use and distribution.

2. Prioritize renewable energy sources. Put a moratorium on the planned coal-fired power plants as they pose great health and environmental risks to the communities.

Moreover, we urge your government to abandon planned and existing waste-to-energy burning technologies such as (gasification, pyrolysis, plasma arc and cement kiln). These technologies are a massive waste of energy. Zero Waste practices such as waste prevention and minimization, recycling and composting conserve 3 to 5 times the amount of energy produced by waste incineration.

3. Sign the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the PSF and make the same operational by allocating its budget as programmed funds; convene the PSF Board and initiate the process for local communities to access it as outlined in the law.

4. Ensure that the Medium Term Development Plan use climate change adaptation as a framework rather than just a chapter of the Plan.

5. Use climate adaptation as framework for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Yolanda-affected areas.

Nagbabago na po ang panahon, ginawa na po dapat ang mga ito kahapon!

Despite this, your remaining years in office will now define how you will turn over our country to the next administration, whether or not it will be ready for great upheavals of weather made more intense by the warming of the seas.

Our Network is ready to respond should you need our assistance. It is in this spirit of unity that we can move forward in our collective desire to see a safe and climate resilient Philippines.

More power and God bless the Philippines!

Sincerely yours:

AKSYON KLIMA PILIPINAS

INDIVIDUAL ORGANIZATION SIGNATORIES

Asian Indigenous Women’s Network
BITS Policy Center
Center for Empowerment & Resource Development, Inc.
Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines
EcoWaste Coalition
Greenpeace Philippines
Institute for Climate & Sustainable Cities
International Institute of Rural Reconstruction
Partnership for Clean Air
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy
Rice Watch and Action Network
Sarilaya (Kasarian Kalayaan)
Tebtebba (Indigenous People’s Intl. Center for Policy Research & Education)
World Wildlife Fund for Nature – Philippines

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One Response to OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III

  1. Jonathan R. Ulanday (TUMC) says:

    Commendable! I hope and pray that the President will take heed to the exigency of this letter and act swiftly.

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