For the Better
Resilience is a character trait we Filipinos are proud of, but we must not let our hopefulness and positivity be a poor subsitute for real action. Because when it comes to climate change and protecting our cities from natural calamities, we need plans and not mere prayers.
BY RHODA OSALVO
When typhoons come, and they come pretty often on our side, we put our faith in God and bear the brunt of
nature. When it’s over, we smile in front of the cameras despite the devastation around us and carry on with life because we say, “The Filipino spirit is waterproof.” Engr. Noel Antonio Gaerlan, Climate Change
commissioner, contests the Filipino people’s resiliency. He tells LEAGUE, “If we are truly resilient, why do disasters continue to harm us on an annual cycle?” RESILIENCE OR RESISTANCE? Resilience is a character trait we Filipinos are proud of, but we must not let our hopefulness and positivity be a poor subsitute for real action. Because when it comes to climate change and protecting our cities from natural calamities, we need plans and not mere prayers. CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE COMMISSIONS Climate change is an issue of major concern. “It is the change in the weather, global temperature, usual precipitation, wind patterns,
and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer,” explains Commissioner Gaerlan. Climate Change Commission or CCC works hand-in-hand with the local officials and executives, capacitating
them to address and adapt to climate change. CCC is only on its ninth year since the enactment of RA 9729 or the Climate Change Act creating the CCC. Comissioner Gaerlan is one of the three commissioners of the CCC, with President Duterte as its chairman. Prior to his appointment to CCC in 2016, Commissioner
Gaerlan served as the Executive Director of the Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO) and as the OIC Assistant Director of the DENRBiodiversity Management Bureau. Some of his previous experience include developing master plans of major river systems in the country and climate-tagging and proofing the same.
CCC, or Komisyon sa Pagbabagong Klima in Filipino, is the lead climate policy-making RESILIENCE OR
RESISTANCE? FEATURES ROUND UP government body mandated “to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate programs and ensure mainstreaming of climate change action in the national, local, and sectoral plans
towards a climate-resilient and climate-smart Philippines.” “Mainstreaming means that climate change action is embedded deep into one’s consciousness such that it has become a way of life or built into one’s lifestyle. It starts with awareness of what climate change is and its effects,” Gaerlan clarifies.For example, global warming or the Earth’s rising temperature is an effect of climate change. According to “Climate Change and
the Philippines,” an executive brief prepared by the CCC, “climate change has resulted in rising sea levels and extreme weather events such as super typhoons, more heavy rains, more intense heat and heat waves, and prolonged severe droughts, and consequently, enormous losses in lives, livelihoods, properties and the
environment.” Haven’t we seen these effects and continue to experience them? For the past 20 years or so, environmentalists have been painting an ugly picture of things to come if the world doesn’t change its ways.
The ugly picture has become our reality in recent years with devastating super typhoons like Yolanda (2013) and Ondoy (2009) that claimed thousands of lives and properties, to name a few. The need to alter our lifestyles has become more urgent. As CCC’s tagline aptly reads,“Nagbabago na ang Panahon, Panahon
na Para Magbago.” Now more than ever, the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to build resilience are of vital importance.“While energy conservation is important, risk-based adaptation is a must for
transformation. The former applies to all citizens, the latter to its leaders, particularly, the LGUs. Given the recent developments and our previous experiences during the typhoons and other disasters, we need to fasttrack and address climate change action,” says the commissioner. Climate change has resulted in rising sea levels and extreme weather events such as super typhoons, more heavy rains, more intense heat
and heat waves, and prolonged severe droughts, and consequently, enormous losses in lives, livelihoods, properties and the environment.“