DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III (File photo) 

MANILA – The pandemic has not waned the government’s resolve to implement programs to address the impact of climate change, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said. 
During the virtual launch of the reconstituted 16-member National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) on Wednesday, Dominguez, who is the CCC chairperson-designate, said “the pandemic has not and will not slow our response to climate change.” 
“The pandemic is a problem, if it’s true it has lasted for three years, but the climate change issues that we have faced will affect the next generations. And we are very concerned precisely that we have to really boost up our responses to climate change and the way to do that is to gather a panel of experts who will help up implement climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he said. 
Dominguez said people who rely on agriculture and fisheries for their livelihood are the most vulnerable to climate change thus, tapping experts, 14 of whom are based in the various regions nationwide, is a “no brainer”. 
The new NPTE, dubbed as “action team” who were selected from more than 130 candidates, will work with local governments and communities regarding the implementation of the government’s climate change mitigation programs. 
“We already built up the fund of knowledge through the last panel of experts. We are now at the implementation stage. This is the action team to move ahead on our climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Dominguez added. 
The DOF said the new NPTE members are: 
Dr. Jihan  Adil, an environmental planning and engineering expert who has extensive experience coordinating the efforts of local government units (LGUs) in developing comprehensive land use plans. Adil has committed to educating LGUs, especially those from Mindanao, about climate change starting from the barangay level;
Dr. Nathaniel Alibuyog, an agricultural engineer specializing in land and water management and currently the Dean of the College of Engineering of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac, Ilocos Norte. He will help the CCC in maximizing the management of land and water resources for sustainable use;
Dr. Zenaida Andrade, a chemical engineer who is both an educator and a specialist in the fields of chemical engineering, pollution control, and waste management. With her background, she can explore how wastewater can be part of a circular economy;
Dr. Wilfredo Campos, an expert in biological oceanography, coastal ecology, and ecosystems, coral reef ecology, and fisheries. He is advocating better management of the country’s fishery resources to address the impact of rising ocean temperatures on our dwindling fish supply;
Dr. Gay Defiesta, who specializes in agricultural economics and environmental accounting, served as Vice-Chancellor for academic affairs at the University of the Philippines (UP) in the Visayas. She advocates stronger partnerships between communities and the academe in implementing climate change-related initiatives;
Dr. Ramon Lorenzo Luis Guinto, an expert in climate change and public health. Focused on what he termed as “planetary health,” he is now training future doctors at the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine so they can become competent in caring not just for people but also the environment. He is determined to devise ways of engaging the LGUs in efforts to address the long-term effects of climate change on public health;
Dr. Eduardo Mangaoang, an expert in upland, lowland, and coastal forest landscape restoration and conservation. He aims to replicate other provinces his ongoing engagements in the modeling of communities in Eastern Samar for preparedness, response, and recovery activities against climate-induced disasters. Mangaoang wants climate change-vulnerable communities to make climate action an integral part of their culture and way of life; 
Dr. Jimmy Masagca, an expert in fisheries and mangroves. He has done studies on how fisheries and mangrove resource management can aid in disaster risk reduction in the typhoon-prone island of Catanduanes. He has immersed himself in coastal communities vulnerable to climate change to explain to people why they need to be concerned about rising sea levels and ocean warming;
Dr. Susan Mercado, a public health and food security expert with extensive experience at the international, national, and local levels. She was a former Undersecretary at the Department of Health (DOH) and is currently Director of the Food Systems and Resiliency Program at the Hawaii Public Health Institute. She said the widespread changes in weather patterns could impact public health and spawn more diseases;
Dr. Richard Muallil, a marine scientist and a recognized expert in coastal resource management and marine protected areas. He was recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines for Marine Science and Conservation for his work in educating dynamite fishers about the need to preserve the reefs and converting them into reef defenders. Muallil will help find ways to mitigate the effects of increasing ocean acidity and rising sea levels on the country’s marine resources;
Dr. Emma Porio, a specialist in climate and disaster resilience. She has underscored the need to translate scientific concepts into language that people will understand to achieve the country’s goal of a whole-of-society approach in fighting climate change;
Dr. Patricia Ann Sanchez, a specialist in disaster risk management and water resource assessment who has been working on the hydrological modeling and simulation of floods and droughts. She will help the CCC in optimizing the use of water resources;
Engineer Merriam Santillan, a geodetic engineer and the dean of the College of Engineering and Geosciences of the Caraga State University (CSU). She has been involved in numerous flood hazard mapping projects in Mindanao using remote sensing technologies. She is determined to not just contribute to climate initiatives through her expertise but also to produce top-notch geodetic engineers in the country;
Dr. Encarnacion Emilia Yap, a post-harvest fisheries specialist and fisheries professional who is the dean of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at UP Visayas. Yap has been educating fishers about the adverse effects of climate change on their means of livelihood and has been helping them implement climate mitigation measures. Moreover, she has instituted in her college what the government plans to do nationwide -- a ban on single-use plastics;
Dr. Maria Angela Zafra, an expert in inclusive business models, sustainable tourism, and gender inclusivity. She advocates getting businesses involved in sustainable practices and climate finance. She believes the challenge to address climate change does not solely rely on the government, as the private sector must play a large role in mobilizing financial resources to achieve the Philippines’ NDC; and 
Dr. Doracie Zoleta Nantes, a specialist in geography, hazards studies and extreme weather events. She believes that LGUs should be involved in the fight against climate change and this crisis and its devastating effects should be explained to people in a language that they will understand. (PNA)