House panel OKs resolution declaring climate, disaster emergency
This handout aerial photo taken and recieved on November 14, 2020 from the Philippine Coast Guard shows submerged houses in Cagayan province, north of Manila, on November 14, 2020, days after Typhoon Vamco hit parts of the country bringing heavy rain and flooding.
Handout/Philippine Coast Guard/AFP

House panel OKs resolution declaring climate, disaster emergency

Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - November 24, 2020 - 4:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — A House committee approved Tuesday a resolution seeking to declare a disaster and climate emergency in the Philippines, which bears the brunt of the adverse effects of the changing climate.

Chaired by Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (Leyte), the House Committee on Disaster Resilience approved House Resolution 535, which seeks to compel a whole-of-government, whole-of-society and whole-of-nation policy response to anticipate, halt, reduce, reverse, address and adapt to the impacts and causes of climate change.

The Philippines has suffered from a number of deadly typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other disasters due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire and the typhoon belt. The warming of global temperature is exacerbating the Philippines’ exposure to these disasters, making it one of the countries vulnerable to extreme weather events.

“Typhoons, all the other disasters are virtually given… It’s what you do about them that essentially shapes the direction of national welfare as well as the welfare of individual families,” Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay), author of the resolution, said Tuesday.

The resolution also seeks to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation and in relation to the House’s oversight functions on measures being implemented to address the impacts of disasters and climate change on the fundamental rights of Filipinos.

It also aims to ensure the full integration and convergence of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation through the passage of the Department of Disaster Resilience bill.

A simple resolution expresses the sense, or sentiment, of a congressional chamber but is non-binding. 

Lagmay: We need to do climate action and we need to do it now

The University of the Philippines Resilience Institute Executive Director Mahar Lagmay said the resolution is a “reiteration of what we already know, that we need to do climate action and we need to do it now, no ‘buts’ and no ‘ifs.’”

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace Philippines have been calling on the government to issue a climate emergency declaration to step up the country’s climate action. For the group, a climate emergency declaration should strengthen an “urgent whole-of-government and whole-of-society mobilization to respond to the climate crisis at the scale and speed needed to address it and protect the Filipino people.”

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would look into the suggestion to declare a climate emergency, saying that tackling climate change is at the top of the president's agenda.

The House panel also approved a substitute bill seeking the establishment of mandatory evacuation centers.

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