DOF signs grant deal for climate change-related projects

By Joann Villanueva

March 7, 2018, 9:27 pm

MANILA -- Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez on Wednesday signed agreements with several local government officials whose localities will benefit from the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) and receive grants for the implementation of climate change adaptation programs.

The financing agreements, signed by Dominguez, were with Mayor Salvacion Saloma-Azarcon of Lanuza, Surigao del Sur; Mayor Alfredo Matugas Coro II of Del Carmen, Siargao in Surigao del Norte; Mayor Aly Arquillano of San Francisco, Camotes Islands, Cebu; and Victor Gerald Castaneda of the Municipal Planning and Development Office of Gerona, Tarlac who signed for Gerona Mayor Eloy Eclar.

The grant is part of the PSF, which is created under Republic Act (RA) 9729, as amended by RA 10174, which has a PHP1 billion annual fund being kept by the National Treasury.

To date, four projects with total amount of PHP191.75 million have been approved under the PSF, two of which were approved in November 2016 and the other two in August last year.

These projects are municipality of Lanuza’s disaster risk reduction and management response as adaptation mechanism to resiliency; Siargao’s climate field school for farmers and fisherfolks in the municipality of Del Carmen; San Francisco, Camotes Island’s building resilience through community-based ecological farming; and Gerona’s promoting resiliency and climate-informed program.

Dominguez, in his speech, said measures should be put in place against the effects of climate change to equip localities cope with its consequences.

“The threats posed by climate change are very real. Humanity needs to exert every effort to mitigate global warming and strengthen our capacity to meet disasters brought about by extreme weather events. Every effort counts,” he said.

Dominguez said the grants to the four LGUs have counterpart funds amounting to PHP41 million, bringing the total cost for the initial projects to PHP232.8 million.

He said the Department of Finance (DOF) would monitor the implementation of the projects “to draw important lessons from the way the local governments execute the projects and build resiliency in their respective localities.”

“These lessons will enlighten future projects intended to reduce the vulnerability of our communities most exposed to severe weather events,” he said.

National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon told reporters after the agreement signing that nine additional projects amounting to PHP979.7 million have also been approved by the PSF Board but are subject to further review and appraisal by the Board in coordination with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

The additional projects involve ecosystem improvement, coastal resources management, disaster risk management capacity building projects and sustainable management of river ecosystem.

De Leon said that the initial projects that have been approved were submitted in 2015 and assessments are continuously being done with the Climate Change Commission (CCC).

She said the process of facilitating the grants takes more than a month after the Department of Finance (DOF) took over the PSF Board Chairmanship in August last year.

“We hope that with this pace together with the DBP we will be able to facilitate the processing to ensure that we will be able to disburse P1 billion within the year,” she said.

The National Treasurer is also hoping for an increase in the PSF budget to PHP2 billion in 2019 to fund more projects, citing that there was no allocation for it under the 2018 national budget.

“It depends on Congress if they can appropriate more. If we can demonstrate that we can handle a bigger pipeline then there will be better incentive for Congress to be able to appropriate a larger amount for PSF,” she added. (PNA)