File photo

MANILA – A House of Representatives’ panel on Tuesday approved a resolution declaring a disaster and climate emergency.

The House Committee on Disaster Resilience approved House Resolution No. 535, which seeks a whole-of-government, whole-of-society, and whole-of-nation policy response to anticipate, halt, reduce, reverse, address, and adapt to its impacts, consequences, and causes.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, the author of the resolution, said the declaration will be “the necessary first of many steps” to secure broader international climate justice and local resilience.

“We will eventually defeat Covid-19, as we have beaten all other pandemics. But the climate emergency will be here to stay. Unless we act now to make our communities safer, and to seek international climate justice, we will suffer the long-term consequences of this crisis,” Salceda said.

Salceda said that by declaring a climate emergency, the Philippines can leverage its position as an emerging market and a potent labor source for new industrialization to pursue an official foreign policy of international climate justice.

He also said the country can also use its domestic policies as moral leverage in pursuing financial claims for rehabilitation and climate-proofing

“The Philippines is doing its best to cooperate in the global push to reduce reliance on emissions-heavy fossil fuels and other non-renewable sources. We can pursue climate-related concessions from the world’s biggest polluters,” he said.

Salceda said the climate emergency declaration will make all national and local appropriations “climate and disaster responsive”.

“The implication is that all government expenditures must now have resilience and disaster preparedness in mind,” Salceda said. “We have to recognize the climate crisis now. Climate change will be with us for a long while. It will be our loyal enemy for generations. It does not serve us to deny its existence.” (PNA)