Congress’ principal author of the People’s Survival Fund (PSF), Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada thanked President Benigno Aquino III for signing it to become Republic Act 10174.
He likewise thanked friends and NGOs in the climate change advocacy work for closely working with his office and giving him full trust and confidence in shepherding this bill.
“One of the reasons why its more fun to do climate change advocacy in this country is because of a lot of committed NGOs in this line of work. They have been waiting for this bill with bated breath, hoping that it finally becomes law and thankfully, it had its time of day. The next step is definitely more challenging – how to make the law work so that we have climate change resilient and adaptive communities,” Tañada said.
RA 10174 amended the Climate Change Act of 2009 or R.A. 9729 by establishing the first-ever climate finance mechanism in the country and sets aside at least one billion pesos annually to fund climate adaptation programs and projects of local governments and communities.
“One of the innovations that was introduced by our friends in civil society, in particular the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) and Aksyon Klima during the final stage of this bill in the House is the performance-based replenishable fund. Government is obliged to maintain for the fund each opening year the minimum amount of one billion pesos. If the fund is utilized well – the fund’s performance will be evaluated by the legislature – government is legally bound to maintain the amount of a billion pesos, but is also allowed to top it up, since the PSF law establishes a floor for the fund but does not indicate a ceiling,” Tañada said, quoting extensively from the ICSC’s website.
Priority for funding access shall be based on the level of risk and vulnerability to climate change, participation of affected communities in the design of the project, poverty reduction potential, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of the proposal, potential co-benefits outside the proponent LGU’s territory, responsiveness to gender-differentiated vulnerabilities, among others.
“One thing I really like about this measure is that it forces LGUs to put forward climate change adaptation action plans, for instance, having an updated land and water use plan that takes into consideration climate change. Doing this can be costly and a mayor of a town or city might not be inclined to put funding into this as they would rather spend their limited fund on ‘quick-return’ projects like farm to market roads and school buildings. But we are now forcing local government officials to consult their people and the scientific communities, urban and rural planners and academe to have a plan that would address a problem that will be with us for a long time. Incentives are placed for people to think long-term rather short-term projects that are just good enough for officials to get re-elected,” Tañada ended.