In response to recent events, a seminar regarding climate change impacts and disaster preparedness in the Philippine setting was conducted today at the Henry Sy, Sr. Hall. The event, organized by the Physics, Computer Technology, and Mechanical Engineering Departments, featured seven speakers from different sectors and focused on a multi-disciplinary approach to the growing problem climate change poses to Filipinos.
The research program workshop is an initiative of the University’s College of Science. Keynote speakers were from different governmental institutions including three executive departments, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Climate Change Commission (CCC), and the University’s very own Jesse Robredo Institute of Governance.
Department of Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa discussed about the importance of health services in times of disasters. “Health facilities must continue functioning in the aftermath of calamities,” he stated. “Health facilities are lifelines.” Since hospitals and other health centers are vital to the recuperation process following calamities, they “must be the last standing structures in time of disasters,” Herbosa said. Apart from actual health care, Herbosa stated that hospitals can also help in addressing water, sanitation, and hygiene problems which may arise.
Ma. Gerarda Asuncion Merilo from the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources proceeded to discuss about the legal and policy framework on climate change in the country. On a local setting, the Republic Act 9729 marked the start of mainstreaming climate change into formulation of governmental policies. It also called for the creation of the CCC. Merilo also shed light on the country’s National Climate Change Action Plan that covers food security, water sufficiency, ecological and environmental stability, human security, climate-friendly industries and services, sustainable energy, and knowledge and capacity development. Merilo also highlighted the need for economic development and environmental conservation to coexist.
Maria Corazon Japson from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) tackled the issue of the increasing levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) emission in the country. Although the Philippines only contributed 0.3% to the world’s total GHG emission, innovations in the transportation sector can help lessen this number. Mitigation options for sustainable transport, as Japson discussed, include avoidance of traffic congestion, improving the public transport system, upgrading fuel efficiency, and promotion of other gas alternatives, among others. Furthermore, Japson stressed the need for reducing the country’s consumption and overall dependence on fossil fuels.
Dr. Francisco Magno from DLSU’s Jesse Robredo Institute of Governance addressed governance and disaster management. He mentioned the efforts of the University in helping local government units (LGU) in disaster planning and risk reduction. In particular, the office’s tie-up with the local government of Iloilo, where they introduced the micro-climate weather forecaster SIGWA, was mentioned. Magno also emphasized the need for inter-LGU partnerships in disaster risk and reduction planning.
PAGASA’s Climatology and Agrometeorology Division Chief Edna Juanillo discussed the problems faced by the world as a result of climate change. “In the next forty years, there will be big and dramatic changes,” she said. While the global climate threats are alarming, the observed trends in the Philippines are also worrying. The country’s location makes it highly susceptible to all sorts of environmental calamities, she stated. Since “the world has less than a decade to change,” PAGASA has been doing its part by enhancing its surveillance systems, updating its Doppler radar, and upgrading its satellite facilities.
On the city level, MMDA’s Director for the Flood Control Information Center Ramon Santiago talked about the metro’s climate change adaptation and the office’s Oplan “UNOS.” He began his talk by stating that while rains are most frequent during the months of July and August, rains during the months of October and November generate more damages. Hence, Santiago mentioned the need for protective infrastructures, mitigation measures, and alert and warning preparedness in the region. He also mentioned the initiatives by the MMDA in waterway cleaning, disaster response training, and emergency operations control.
Finally, CCC’s Arnold Grant Belver talked about the office’s Climate Change Mitigation Initiatives for the Philippines and how they are grounded on the cycle of risk assessment, followed by risk evaluation, then risk management. Some programs of the office were named such as Project Climate Twin Phoenix.
The seminar was wrapped with an open forum facilitated by Antonio Maralit of the Campus Sustainability Office and Dr. Edgar Vallar from the Physics Department. The research program workshop is the first of three seminars in line with climate change.