Monday, September 12, 2011

Senate approves People’s Survival Fund on 3rd reading

MANILA, September 13, 2011-Senators’ passed the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) Bill on Third Reading that would allow local governments and communities to put in place climate mitigation practices to lessen the destructive impact of natural disasters.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile lauded the PSF measure saying that the lack of funding seems to be the main deterrent to solving the country’s problems in dealing with the effects of climate change yearly.

“The PSF is a fund that intends to provide incentives for early adaptation measures by allocating finances for local resilience-building needs,” Enrile said, believing that the sooner the People’s Survival Fund is approved by the House and the sooner it is enacted into law, the earlier the government will be able to implement policies and reforms geared towards building a country that is not only climate-resilient but economically sound as well.

The PSF bill is principally sponsored by Enrile and co-sponsored by Senators Loren Lagarda, Ralph G. Recto, Franklin M. Drilon and Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid.

To reflect prevailing conditions in the country, Enrile pointed out that government intervention on climate change and disaster risk reduction should be given more importance.

Enrile said that the recent rains that inundated major parts of Visayas and Mindanao not only caused loss of lives and destruction to property, but also destroyed sources of livelihood, adding that adaptation finance should always be seen as an investment, and not a cost.

The bill was unanimously approved after consideration of Drilon’s amendment to appropriate the amount of P1 billion annually to be used for the fund under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The PSF aimed to strengthen the Climate Change Act of 2009. PSF is a special trust fund for the financing of adaptation programs and projects based on climate change action plans of local government units and communities. Private donations, if any, shall be exempted from donor’s tax.

Among the uses of the fund stated in Section 20 of the proposed measure are adaptation activities in the areas of water resources management, land management, agriculture and fisheries, health, infrastructure development, fragile ecosystems including mountainous ecosystems, and integrated coastal zone management.

Authors of the bill also said that the PSF aims to improve the monitoring of diseases triggered by climate change and in the same vein, improving the country’s disease control and prevention measures and at the same time improve the country’s forecasting and early warning systems as part of disaster-preparedness measures for climate related hazards, among others.

The Fund will be managed by a PSF Board composed by one commissioner coming from the Climate Change Commission, the Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, the National Economic and Development Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, together with representatives from government financial institutions, the business sector and non-government organizations under the bill. (Jason de Asis)

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