Climate change body slammed over 'dismal' performance, 'constant travels'

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2022 05:16 PM

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MANILA — Some senators on Wednesday called out the Climate Change Commission (CCC) for its "dismal" performance 13 years since its creation and criticized its officials' supposed penchant for "international travels."

During the Senate's plenary deliberation on the CCC's proposed P128 million budget for 2023, Sen. Imee Marcos pointed out the CCC's "constant travels." 

Marcos said that from April to November of this year alone, the CCC had embarked on 20 trips.

"This body had been in existence for 13 years and indeed has very little to show except international travel and its carbon footprint," Marcos said. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, who was not allowed to ask questions as the presiding officer, demanded that the CCC submit accomplishment report on each of its 20 travels this year, among other documents.

"Give a report on their trips, on the status of negotiations, in this case the inclusion of loss and damage in the agenda in the Egypt talks, and all fund projects accessed by the Philippine government since creation of commission so we can see the work they've done," Legarda said.

Legarda proposed that a provision in the next year's General Appropriations Act include the CCC's submission of post-travel reports.

"I will put a provision that all travels of staff, technical advisers, consultants, commissioners will have a post-travel report sent to the Senate for senators to learn from," she said.

But Marcos said she wants to totally disallow travels of CCC officials "unless absolutely necessary."

In 2018, then President Rodrigo Duterte also called out the CCC's international trips for climate change conferences.

Meanwhile, Marcos also raised concerns over the CCC's mainstreaming program targeted to local government units (LGU).

"The mainstreaming at the LGU level has been cited for a mere 18 percent accomplishment. I also think that… mainstreaming is a fundamental part of the climate change program," she said.

Legarda noted that the report was "quite dismal."

"Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation, especially adaptation in a vulnerable country like the Philippines, is the main focus of the task at hand of CCC. So perhaps instead of traveling abroad where we even spread to much carbon footprint, we should focus on mainstreaming [these issues] in LGUs," she said.

Marcos also recommended the auditing of the CCC's People's Survival Fund amounting to P1 billion granted in 2015.

"To date P690 million remains with the CCC, unexpended. Pera na, naging bato pa," she lamented.

Legarda said "that is a great concern."

According to Marcos, she has received the same response from CCC regarding the said fund.

"We've asked that year on year. We've always derived the same answer stating that whereas the funds are with them, the DOF has taken over its management and since 2017 nothing has been granted," Marcos said.

"I cannot understand this. And it's also clear that it's not entirely true because a project in Sarangani for P93 million was granted in 2018. Kaya dapat siguro i-audit kasi malabo libro nila eh," she added.

The CCC officials were present in the Senate plenary but was not allowed to address the body.

Legarda said that CCC officials will be summoned next week to directly answer the senators' concerns.

The CCC's proposed 2023 budget was eventually deemed submitted without further interpellation from other senators.

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