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Lets make climate laws work!

By Gloria Ramos
Cebu Daily News
8:02 am | Monday, June 10th, 2013

Media and social network sites were abuzz with comments from citizens who attributed politics to the Cebu City Councils act of requiring the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRMO) to submit the citys Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) plan before it can review the P-202 million Local DRRM Fund Investment Plan. In effect, the legislators prudently asked if the required road map had been crafted to guide actions, projects and expenditures related to climate change and DRRM. They should in fact be commended and not be unfairly charged for being obstructionists. The DRRM plan is a component of the local Climate Change Action Plan that each local government unit (LGU) and stakeholders are mandated to craft under RA 9729, the Climate Change Act of 2009 and RA 10121, the DRRM Act of 2010. RA 9729, Section 14 on Local Climate Change Action Plan states that The LGUs shall be the frontline agencies in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas, consistent with the provisions of the Local Government Code, the Framework, and the National Climate Change Action Plan. Barangays shall be directly involved with municipal and city governments in prioritizing climate change issues and in identifying and implementing best practices and other solutions. Municipal and city governments shall consider climate change adaptation, as one of their regular functions. Provincial governments shall provide technical assistance, enforcement and information management in support of municipal and city climate change action plans. Inter-local government unit collaboration shall be maximized in the conduct of climate- related activities. Is there an LGU in Cebu which has crafted both climate change action and DRRM Plans, among other development plans, as required by our laws? Meanwhile, Cebu Provincial Board Member Thadeo Ouano called for the reactivation of the sleeping local DRRM Councils. Under RA 10121 and the Department of Interior and Local Government Circular No. 2010-143, signed by then Secretary Jesse Robredo over two years ago, the City DRRM Council under the mayor, as the chairperson, shall, among others: A. Approve, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management P lan and annually review, test and develop the plan consistent with other national and local planning programs; B. Ensure the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into local development plans, programs and budgets as a strategy in sustainable development and poverty reduction. One is tempted to ask: Were the local DRRM Councils even constituted after the DRRM Law was promulgated in 2010? For advocates, this controversy is another opportunity for the public to be made aware of the existence of climate laws such as RA 9729 and RA 10121, which lamentably suffer the fate of other statutes still unimplemented. It has become normal for our laws to be unenforced and no one is held accountable. This appalling situation is a terrible source of shame and embarrassment for us, Filipinos. It is bad enough that the laws are not implemented by those mandated to do so. We even judge our sincere and dedicated public officials unfairly. Not many citizens are aware that Councilor Nida Cabrera, as chairperson of the Cebu City Councils environment Committee, went beyond her duty and took the initiative of clustering landslide prone mountain barangays to improve their capacity to prepare climate change and DRRM action plans in collaboration with their constituents. She went the extra mile because she knows the laws, understands our extreme vulnerability and most of all, because she cares for all of us. I should know. I spoke on the legal framework of climate change and DRRM during those trainings. However, because of politics, she was stripped of the needed budget and equipment. The trainings under her office stopped. But, thank goodness, the Cebu City Resource Management and Development Center continued the capacity building trainings of LGUs. It is uncanny that CCDRMO seems not to know the mandates of its office, which under RA 10121, includes being responsible for setting the direction, development, implementation and coordination of disaster risk management programs within their territorial jurisdiction. Among its principal duties are to Formulate and implement a comprehensive and integrated Local DRRM Plan in accordance with the national, regional and provincial framework, and policies on disaster risk reduction in close coordination with the local development councils (LDCs); Prepare and submit to the local sanggunian through the Local DRRM Council and the LDC the annual LDRRMO Plan and budget, the proposed programming of the LDRRMF, other dedicated disaster risk reduction and management resources, and other regular funding source/s and budgetary support of the LDRRMO/BDRRMC. We simply have not learned the lessons of the past. The sight of Cebuanos scampering for safe haven after a tsunami alert in February 2012 still reverberates with us. It is not enough to issue instructions on what to do during

calamities or spend for equipment. Widespread grassroot trainings and public participation for disaster preparedness have to be conducted to prevent tragedies and save lives. This can only be done if there is a plan where citizens are involved in the preparation, not just for disaster reduction and management, but for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and equally important, close collaboration within and outside City Hall. Climate change spares no one, impacting the poor, women, children, the ailing and the elderly the most. It is time for citizens and government to join hands to fight it and build resiliency for people and ecosystems. Let us focus on issues that concern all of us, anchored on solid principles of good governance one that is participatory, transparent and accountable under the rule of law. It is our hope that soon, the LGUs and national agencies will realize that by making the laws work and inviting and mobilizing participation from the people, government become responsive to their real and still largely unmet needs.

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