Answering the call

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - May 9, 2021 - 12:00am

Climate change is arguably the most defining phenomenon of the 21st century. Its reality can no longer be denied as nations and societies all over the world continue to grapple with its consequences, such as severe drought or destructive floods.

President Duterte recently approved our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, which aims to cut carbon emissions in the country by 75 percent by 2030.

The private sector has immediately risen to the challenge. With the Philippines being one of its largest markets, food and beverage giant Nestlé is prioritizing actions to help mitigate climate change.

Recently, the company announced new commitments, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in its operations by around 30 percent, cutting the use of virgin plastics by a third by 2025, and collecting an annual average of 26,000 tons of plastic waste to sustain plastic neutrality

Under the company’s Nescafé Plan, regenerative agriculture and sustainable coffee production are being taught to and applied by grassroots farmers, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More and more companies are using renewable electricity. Nestle is one of them, with its facilities in Luzon running on clean energy.

With the leadership it has shown when it became the first multinational fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) in the country to achieve plastic neutrality last year, the company seems well placed to make good on its commitments.

The menace of climate change may seem insurmountable, but with key stakeholders taking the lead, the rest of society will follow suit.

Time is of the essence

Congress is now being heavily criticized for its slow action on a House bill that seeks to provide each Filipino family with an ayuda or financial assistance of P10,000.

For families grappling with the devastating effects of the pandemic on their incomes especially, each day of delay means less or even no food on the table.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), P10,000 can cover a family of five’s food and non-food requirements for a month.

Of course, P10,000 multiplied by millions of Filipino families becomes a huge amount, so where would this money come from?

Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, and his allies in the so-called Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Congress movement, say that P1.5 billion that had been allocated under Bayanihan 1 for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) for non-4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) beneficiaries has not been disbursed.

In addition, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) still has P75 billion from its regular budget and P6.7 billion from Bayanihan 1 and 2 that are unused, while the Department of Education has P4 billion for its digital learning programs that are just lying around.

Cayetano and his allies know there is still money in these departments and programs, which is why they filed the 10K Ayuda Bill last Feb. 1.

Recently, the 10K Ayuda Bill has been integrated into Bayanihan 3. That sounds good, until one learns that the joint hearing of the House economic affairs and social services committees did not adopt the proposed one-time cash assistance.

Ahead of a final action on the House bill, Cayetano and his allies marked Labor Day by giving P10,000 in cash assistance to around 200 beneficiaries from 13 different areas in the country using their own resources. A few would call the program “grandstanding,” but who cares if it means giving the people what they need.

According to Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, one of the authors of the Bayanihan 3 bill, the plan is for each Filipino to be entitled to a P2,000 cash aid under the draft of the third COVID-19 stimulus package, but this will be given in two tranches of P1,000 each. The substitute bill for Bayanihan 3 still needs to be forwarded to the House appropriations committee before it undergoes plenary, with sessions in the House and Senate to resume on May 17.

But any comprehensive bill just like Bayanihan 3, which includes other types of assistance programs over and above the basic ayuda takes time before getting approved.  It would have been better if they just approved the P10,000 ayuda first before discussing other forms of assistance.

Not so hidden agenda

DONATION: The Rotary Club of Manila, led by its president Bobby Lim Joseph (2nd from left), IPP Jackie Rodriguez and VP Thad Liamzon recently turned over 90,000 face masks donated by Japanese philanthropist Kenji Mori of Rotary Club of Kuzuha, Osaka to Pasay City Mayor Emy Calixto-Rubiano in support of her project “Life Savers.” Also present during the event were Pasay City Councilor Joey Calixto, Star Rtn and JCI Makati president Lawrence Tan. JCI Makati members provided logistical support while Coltrans Logistic GM Vener Catacutan took care of the delivery of the items. Mori is a regular donor to the Philippines through the RCM for over eight years and has been honored three times by the club for helping Filipino school children and the needy.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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