Thursday, January 22, 2015

Legarda Calls For Climate Action And Climate Cooperation In Meet With Nicolas Hulot, France’s Special Climate Envoy

Senator Loren Legarda with Mr. Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said she looks forward to French President Francois Hollande’s forthcoming visit to the Philippines, which is expected to tackle Philippine-French cooperation on climate action.

Legarda made the statement following her meeting with the Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet, Mr. Nicolas Hulot, who said that President Hollande is very keen on working with the Philippine Government to ensure that the COP 21 or the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France will be more than just the usual climate talks as it should compel nations to carry out urgent climate action.

“The COP 21 is a very crucial platform for climate action and I am glad that President Hollande is eager to make this a successful conference that would bring in significant results, specifically a universal and ambitious climate deal, which has been elusive for many years now,” she said.

Legarda, United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, said that the meeting with Hulot focused on how the two nations can work together to mitigate climate change and ensure that nations affected are able to adapt to its effects.

“France is moving towards a green economy and sustainable development. One of its aims is to halve French consumption on fossil fuels by the year 2050 as part of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. On the other hand, the Philippines has been working towards resilience as it is greatly vulnerable to natural hazards and the effects of climate change. These realities make a good formula for climate cooperation between the two nations,” she explained.

The Senator said that Hulot also called for climate justice, stressing that nations like the Philippines, which is a very low emitter of greenhouse gas, are those that bear the brunt of climate change.

“It is in developing countries where disaster risks abound and the poor are the most affected by disasters, which are getting stronger and more frequent due to climate change. Natural hazards have rendered vulnerable populations as climate refugees in their own communities. These people are seeking climate justice for a catastrophe they never created or caused,” Legarda said.

She noted that France is likewise calling for the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund and for industrialized nations to assist developing countries in reducing the risks and coping with the impacts of extreme weather events, while reducing their own GHG emissions.

“We look forward to this climate cooperation with France and we hope that the COP 21 will result in climate cooperation among all nations. No nation is safe from climate change unless we do something now. We must act now,” Legarda concluded.

Jinggoy: Lying witness must suffer same penalty of convicted defendant

MANILA-Given how easy some unscrupulous individuals could let out baseless and malicious accusations against other people before various forums and the mass media especially in time for the coming 2016 elections, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada seeks grave punishment for witnesses who shall provide false testimonies.
Senate Bill 2573 which was filed last Monday, the first session day of the Senate after the holiday break, aims to amend Article 180 of the Revised Penal Code and impose heavier penalty for lying witnesses.
The same bill was first introduced by Sen. Estrada on July 2007 during the 14th Congress. The measure was then re-filed during the previous 15th Congress. The bill was then referred to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws.
Under the current laws, the penalty for false testimony depends on the sentence imposed on the person against the false testimony was given.
“For instance, if a witness testifies falsely against the accused charged with homicide, and such accused is convicted and sentenced to reclusion temporal (minimum of 12 years imprisonment) and the witness was later found to be lying and was in turn prosecuted and convicted, the penalty imposable to such lying witness is onlyprision mayor (minimum of 6 years),” the bill’s explanatory note reads.
“This is grossly unfair to the accused falsely convicted as a result of a witness’ false testimony,” Sen. Estrada stresses.
The proposed bill further provides that if the defendant is acquitted, the lying witness shall suffer the penalty imposable upon the defendant if the latter is convicted.
“The bill is in no way intended to silence or intimidate witnesses who seek to expose anomalies in the government. In fact I support them through the passage of a comprehensive Whistleblower Protection Act,” says Sen. Estrada, also the author of Senate Bill 1286 that guarantees security and benefits for whistleblowers.
“But while we pursue transparency and accountability in our government, we must ensure that this crusade does not lead to mere besmirching reputations, assassinating characters and destroying one’s honor through fabrication of stories and exposition of tall tales just like Benhur Luy and Ruby Tuason did in relation to the PDAF scam,” he adds.

Pope's Leyte visit should spur govt to fast-track Yolanda rehab -Angara

MANILA-Pope Francis’ visit to Leyte should spur government to “speed up and finish” the reconstruction of areas ravaged by the strongest typhoon in history, Sen. Sonny Angara stressed today.

“The Pope’s visit will all be for naught if it will not result in ending the misery of the victims of Yolanda,” Angara said.

“If the Pope’s visit has been hailed as inspiring, then it should inspire us all in completing the rehabilitation of lives and places wrecked by Yolanda. The best way to honor his visit is to accomplish the unfinished tasks," he pointed out.

“When the Pope said we should help the victims of Yolanda, it is not enough that we nod our heads in agreement. The correct response is through action, by transforming his words into deeds," Angara said.

“Having been personally been blessed by the Pope, I sincerely believe that the President's cabinet men have been energized and are now ready to hurdle bottlenecks that delay the delivery of assistance to Yolanda victims," the lawmaker emphasized.

He noted that “a raft of appropriations” has been authorized by Congress to sustain reconstruction work in Yolanda-hit areas, citing the 2015 national budget which earmarks P14 billion in Calamity Fund and P1 billion in Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Fund.

These are on top of regular agency funds lodged in departments like the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Agriculture which allocate funds for the Yolanda devastated places.

And before 2014 came to a close, Angara said Congress also passed the P22.5 billion 2014 supplemental budget which gave P8 billion to the National Housing Authority for the construction of 27,313 permanent homes for Yolanda victims.

The supplemental budget also funneled P2.1 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for emergency shelter assistance in Yolanda hit areas.

Angara has urged concerned executive officials to cut the lag time from fund release to actual construction, further suggesting that agencies involved in rehabilitation work should accelerate the procurement and immediate implementation of the projects.

“Kung totoo nga na ang budget ay sya na ring nagsisilbing release document, wala nang dahilan para maantala pa ang ang pagsasakatuparan ng mga proyekto para sa mga biktima ng Yolanda," Angara said.

Yolanda has left 6,300 dead, 28,689 injured, 1,061 missing and destroyed 536,313 houses as it barreled through four central Philippine regions in November of 2013.

To rebuild these areas, the lead agency coordinating relief work led by former Sen. Ping Lacson has submitted to Malacanang a detailed reconstruction plan which will cost P172 billion to implement.

Senate Adopts Legarda’s Reso on Review of UN Peacekeeping Operations

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that the Senate has adopted on Wednesday (January 21) Senate Resolution No. 1044, which affirms the Senate’s support to the review of the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations and special political missions.

Legarda, who filed the Resolution, said that a review of the UN’s peacekeeping operations is needed in light of new challenges and changes in the geopolitical landscape and risks faced by UN international missions.

“In August last year, our Filipino peacekeepers who were conducting their mission at Golan Heights in Syria were forced to defend themselves against Syrian rebels and reposition to avoid further harm. As a founding Member-State of the United Nations and in keeping with our obligations to the international community, our country has at various times deployed peacekeepers to war-torn areas, and though we know the risks, the safety of our soldiers remains our utmost concern. Thus, we support this comprehensive assessment of the state of UN peace operations,” she stressed.

On October 31, 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the creation of a High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, which is tasked to conduct a major external review of UN’s peacekeeping and special political missions. Its findings will be taken up for consideration by the UN General Assembly at its 2015 General Debate.

The Panel is chaired by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste) and was originally composed of thirteen (13) other members namely, Jean Arnault (France); Abhijit Guha (India); Ameerah Haq (Bangladesh); Andrew Hughes (Australia); Alexander Ilitchev (Russia); Hilde F. Johnson (Norway); Bruce Jones (Canada); Youssef Mahmoud (Tunisia); Ian Martin (United Kingdom); Henrietta Joy Abena Nyarko Mensa-Bonsu (Ghana); B. Lynn Pascoe (US); Floriano Peixoto Vieira Neto (Brazil); and Wang Xuexian (China).

Three additional female panelists were later included. They are Marie-Louise Baricako (Burundi); Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka); and Rima Salah (Jordan).


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