Marcos eyes rehab of water supply systems
MANILA (UPDATE) - President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Monday his administration will prioritize the use of renewable energy sources to cushion the impacts of climate change in the Philippines.
Marcos, in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), said although the Philippines is considered a minor contributor to climate change, it is one of the countries most vulnerable to its effects.
In order to alleviate the effects of climate change, he said there is a need to prioritize the use of renewable energy sources.
"The use of renewable energy is at the top of our climate agenda. We will increase our use of renewable energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal power, solar and wind," he said.
There is also a need to invest in technology to provide more accurate weather forecasts and disaster alerts, he said.
"Geographically, we are a disaster-prone country. Capacity building for our natural disaster resilience is therefore a must. Investment in science and technology is imperative to enable us to have accurate weather forecast and on-time disaster alerts," said Marcos.
He pushed for disaster-proofing of communities, especially those that are already affected by climate change.
"Studies show that already now, many areas in the Philippines are at high risk from the rise in sea levels brought about by the increase in global temperature," he said.
"We must adapt to this phenomenon with disaster-proof planning for our communities."
Consumer group Power for People Coalition, meanwhile, said it was "disappointed" that Marcos' renewable energy plans were "full of contradictions" given that gas remained necessary during the transition.
“President Marcos’ energy plans are at odds with what he promises. He cannot say that renewable energy is his top agenda when he is peddling nuclear and natural gas, both of which are not clean sources of energy, not to mention the environmental risks and hazards that come with it.” said Gerry Arances, convener of the group.
They urged Marcos to follow through with his plans.
“Renewable energy is a top priority not just by saying it, but committing to minimizing, then eliminating the use of fossil fuels to protect the environment and consumers. It’s disappointing to hear him talk about incentives and bill for gas and action point for nuclear but no actual plans for renewable energy,” he added.
Marcos, who advocated for the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant during his presidential campaign, said "it was time to reexamine" the country's strategy in building nuclear power plants locally, noting that public-private partnerships would help fund future nuclear projects.
He also assured the public that the government would follow international regulations on nuclear operations.
"In the area of nuclear power, there have been new tech developed that allows small-scale modular nuclear plants and other derivations. PPPs will play a part in support," he said during his address.
The Department of Energy had said the country's nuclear energy push is possible under the current administration as more countries veer away from the use of coal-fired power plants, which have contributed to large carbon emissions detrimental to the environment.
Government, however, will need a proper regulation framework and a strong foundation to build new nuclear power plants or revive the one in Bataan, given the wide skepticism surrounding it due to safety issues.
Aside from prioritizing the use of renewable energy, Marcos said there is a need to rehabilitate and improve the country's water supply systems.
This can be done by looking for more sources of fresh water and working with the private sector.
"We will also look into the precarious fresh water supply situation in the country, especially in our urban areas. Many of our water supply systems date back to the 1950s, and they must now be rehabilitated and improved," Marcos said.
"I've instructed the DENR, together with the DPWH to explore positive partnerships with the private sector to address this crucial situation," he added.
In terms of protecting the environment, Marcos said companies exploiting the country's natural resources should follow environmental laws.
"The Philippines has excellent laws on the environment, but we have to guarantee that these laws are properly enforced. And this will require a great deal of coordination and cooperation between concerned government agencies and private stakeholders. Companies who exploit our natural resources must follow the law," he said.
"We all have the responsibility to preserve this earth. For we are but custodians and we will pass on this great treasure to future generations," he added.
"There is no question that the preservation of the environment is the preservation of life. If we cannot mitigate climate change, all our plans for the economy, all our plans for our future will be for naught."
Climate change is among the biggest global challenges. Former President Rodrigo Duterte himself had said he hoped the Marcos administration would do better in addressing the issue.
Newly-appointed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga earlier said she will prioritize fighting climate emergency and protecting indigenous species.