By Ana Rustica Abalos, Anna Mae Amar, Gabrielle Martina Diaz and Mitzi Caryl Encarnacion
The environment in which we live in is a major source of many vital resources necessary for the continuance of human life. From the provision of clean air and waters to being a source of employment, lives are dependent upon the condition of our forests, fields, rivers and seas. The Philippine Constitution itself has recognized the need to protect this resource in order to promote and maintain a healthy environment for the current generation and the generations to come. In the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, one of the policies stated therein is: “The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”.
Since the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, many acts have been passed and agencies created dedicated to the cause for environmental protection and climate change. Acts such as the Clean Air Act of 1999 and the creation of agencies such as the Inter-Agency Committee on Climate Change (IACCC) headed by the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources have also aided the government (Philippine Initiatives to Address Environmental Issues). The heightened effects of climate change in recent years would require the cooperation of the government as well as the citizens as each of us will be affected and are the ones who can delay, or even reverse, its effects on the Philippine Islands.
Climate change is a development issue. The Philippines is highly exposed to hazards created by weather events, and climate change will exacerbate this through an increase in extreme weather events, changes in temperature, shifts in rainfall patterns, and sea level rise. Natural disasters already account for more than 0.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually, and climate change is expected to increase these losses further, making it a development issue rather than one confined to environmental concerns. Climate change will, however, also make new financing available for a more sustainable low-carbon economy and allow affected countries to take adaptation measures. This could have important benefits for the Philippines by reducing, for example, the level of air pollution and the risks of unpredictable weather events. The Philippines is highly exposed to extreme weather, and it is expected that climate variability could lead to an increase in the number, severity, and unpredictability of events. In the past 10 years the Philippines has experienced the highest recorded rainfall and the strongest typhoons.
The researchers conduct an exploratory investigation on mainstreaming policies in Bacolod City. The researchers commend all relevant studies undertaken, and acknowledge all of their actions to contribute to knowledge on climate change mainstreaming which can be of great assistance to not only the Philippines, but other developing countries as well. However, besides the fact of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, other scholarly articles failed to highlight the positive social economic externalities that can be produced from mainstreaming climate change. They do highlight the implementation gaps (Runhaar, Wilk, Persson, Uittenbroek, and Wamsler, 2018), as will our study, but specific to the LGU and private mainstreaming activities within Bacolod City.
Bacolod City, situated on the northwestern part of the island of Negros, is bounded by the Guimaras Strait on the west, the municipality of Talisay on the north, the municipality of Murcia on the east, and Bago City on the South. The City has a land area of 162.67 square. Its population as determined by the 2015 Census was 561,875. This represented 7.46% of the total population of the Western Visayas region. Based on these figures, the population density is computed at 3,454 inhabitants per square kilometer or 8,946 inhabitants per square mile and an estimated elevation above sea level of 11.3 meters or 37 feet. A highly urbanized city with 61 barangays with 41 of them being urban and 20 rural.
- Objectives of the Study
- To determine the extent of the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change mainstreaming being undertaken in Bacolod City
- What are the manifestations of the application of such national legislation?
- In said implementation by the local Government, are there any implementation gaps?
- If implementation gaps exist, what legal provisions can hold the local government accountable?
- If no such implementation gaps exist, what legal provisions provide for the Government’s express responsibility?
- Definition of Terms
It’s a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over decades of time (Rahman, 2012). Meanwhile, Article 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”. The IPCC on the other hand interprets climate change as a change due to natural variability alongside human activity.
For the purposes of this study, climate change is the alteration of the composition of the global atmosphere in relation to the geographical area of Bacolod City as a result of man-made activities which changed the basic properties of nature itself.
For the purposes of this study, local government are agencies of the national government in Bacolod City. They are charged with the matter of application of the national legislation on climate change mainstreaming, its local implementation through local ordinance or resolution and its law enforcement.
For the purposes of this study, national legislation is the preparing and enacting of laws of the Philippines national legislature motivated to deal with climate change. It is used to apply to local ordinances and to the rules and regulations of administrative agencies of Bacolod City, and is passed in the exercise of delegated legislative functions.
For the purposes of this study, local legislation is the power of the local legislative body of Bacolod City to make rules in the form of ordinances and resolutions of local application that have the force and effect of law in relation to climate change mainstreaming.
For purposes of this study, executive branch includes administrative branches responsible for execution of local ordinances, with respect to climate change mainstreaming by creating rules and regulations adhering to such local ordinances. They are responsible for law enforcement through programs and advocacies to be put in effect in Bacolod City
National Framework Strategy on Climate Change
The Climate Change Commission, together with concerned agencies and local government units, shall, with public participation, formulate and fully implement a National Climate Change Action Plan in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, other international agreements, conventions and protocols on climate change and the Framework Program formulated pursuant to the Philippines S. No. 2583 Climate Change Act within one year after the formulation of the latter. (Philippines S. No. 2583 Climate Change Act , 2008)
It shall refer to the need to bring adjustments to ecological, social or economic systems in response to expected climate change impacts to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner. ( (Philippines S. No. 2583 Climate Change Act , 2008))
- Research Methodology
This is an exploratory study which aims to discover how the local government adhere and apply existing national legislation. Furthermore, it is to analyze the elements that stand against the promotion of Climate challenge action plans in Bacolod City and the opportunities it brings.
Further, this is a qualitative study, as it used qualitative primary sources from experts and local government officials and secondary gathering methods from trusted scholarly articles, existing literature, government publication, and journal books.
Scope and Limitations
This study is restricted to Bacolod City, Philippines. It centers on inquiry within the local government regarding the actions taken regarding the rapid and increasing change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns stimulated by human activities. Specifically, the study focuses only the Climate Change Mainstreaming in Bacolod City.
The challenges of climate change are formidable for the Philippines: more extreme weather events, changes in precipitation that affect agriculture and water supply, sea level rise—these will be the major ones. Given the long-term, uncertain, and cross-sectoral nature of the problem, institutions and policy makers will be pressed to adjust with flexibility and foresight and across traditional boundaries. New finance will have to be mobilized to meet the costs of necessary investments in adaptation and mitigation. New technologies need to be tested. Awareness needs to be raised, and the education curricula need to be adjusted to equip the growing population with the means to take on these challenges. This section reviews the responses to climate change in terms of the policy and legal actions that have been taken, the institutional mandates that have been established, and the analysis, programs, and projects that have been launched. The list is not comprehensive, as information is highly fragmented, which indicates an overall coordination issue.
At the local level, several LGUs have also been active in the promotion of climate change risk management. The National Conference on Climate Change Adaptation convened in 2007 by the provincial government of Albay prepared the Albay Declaration on Climate Change, which was subsequently submitted to President Arroyo. Albay is pursuing follow-through activities in the development of the national strategic framework on climate change adaptation. In 2009 a similar climate change conference was convened by the Governor of Cebu for the Visayas region. Despite the potential synergies between disaster risk mitigation and climate change adaptation, so far there is inadequate convergence in policy, planning, and coordination across national government agencies. To date most resources have been focused on ensuring timely response to disasters due to the fact that the current disaster management legislation focuses on emergency response.
The Philippine Constitution states that “it is the policy of the State to protect and advance the right of the Filipino people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.” Six laws explicitly address climate change:
The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (1997), which directs the Department of Agriculture and other appropriate agencies to take into account climate change, weather disturbances, and annual productivity cycles in order to forecast and formulate appropriate agricultural and fisheries programs. Aside from researching and developing more sustainable methods of fishing, the act highlighted the need for a kind of development that would not cause harm to the ecosystem. The legislature acknowledged the need to exert care and judicious use of the natural resources found in our country in order to achieve sustainability that will also benefit the future generations.
The Philippine Clean Air Act (1999), which instructs the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, concerned agencies, and local government units (LGUs) to prepare and implement national plans in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The legislature intended to focus on the preventive aspect of pollution rather than curing it in this said act. The methods of preventing air pollution was to be met through the cooperation of the citizens in addition from that of the government agencies. One of the policies this act is to promote to the citizens to take an active part in its prevention through dissemination of information and knowledge. It also intended to enforce a system of personal accountability wherein there would be penalties for polluters to rehabilitate and clean-up the environment.
The Philippine Clean Water Act (2004), which aims to reduce water pollution through better management of sewerage and sanitation, industrial effluent, and agricultural, industrial, and residential waste. The act also recognizes that in order to provide for clean water for the consumption of the general public, the protection of the sources of such water need to be protected as well. As this will affect public health, the creation of processes which are environmentally sustainable and would not further contribute to the contamination of sources of water are equally important to the process being energy efficient as well.
The Biofuels Act (2006) or Republic Act No: 9367, pursues energy self-sufficiency. Through this act, the supply of biofuels for use in motor vehicles was mandated by the legislature upon commercial sellers. The policy’s main purpose is to reduce the dependence of the Philippines on imported fuels. It was enacted with the intention to develop indigenous, renewable, and sustainable source of energy for its consumption of biofuels and biodiesel. Fuels contribute to the Green House Gas emissions which pollute the air whose effects can be felt more prominently in metropolitan or highly urbanized areas such as Manila and Cebu. The legislature also highlighted that by localizing the production of biofuels, rise in employment in rural areas would also increase, therefore having a two-fold effect: opportunity for employment and decreased harmful gas emissions.
In the City of Bacolod, the local government has declared a state of climate emergency in 2019, the first city in the Philippines to declare such status (Bacolod First City in PH to Declare Climate Emergency, 2019). According to one of its councilors, Carl Lopez, the chairman of the Committee on environment and ecology, a resolution duly approved by the city council on July 17, 2019 has been passed to take the necessary steps to transition and mobilize into a safer environment for the citizens of the highly urbanized city. The said resolutions penned by Lopez initiates an in-depth review of existing ordinances already in place. These include the review of the ordinances regarding Ground Water Protection, Clean River and Waterways, and Septage Management previously passed and penned by Lopez himself in his previous terms as a councilor of Bacolod.
Currently, some of programs that are enforced in the city in lieu of the climate emergency are the Zero Waste Program and the latest Urban Greening Program. Behind these programs are the Environment and Natural Resources Office of Bacolod City (ENROC) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The former is considered as the watchdog of the city in regards to the environment and the management of natural resources while the latter is a part of the national executive branch tasked with the governance and supervision of the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the natural resources of the country. Both are tasked with working with other local agencies and organizations in creating and executing programs that could be considered in line with the aforementioned constitutional mandate that all government agencies should follow.
“Zero Waste” is one of the goals the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s has initiated through a resolution which is inline with Proclamation No. 760 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. The City of Bacolod has celebrated the National Zero Waste Month which claims to improve environmental awareness and spark action in the citizens. Councilor Cindy Rojas, in an interview with local news agency Panay News, stated that the zero waste goal can be attained through the creation and proper use of products to systematically avoid and eliminate the amounts of waste and toxicity to ensure the health of the environment (Singuay, 2019). Single use plastics can normally be seen in the canals and side streets of Bacolod which then lead to the rivers of Bacolod, being one of the major pollutants can be reduced by the normalization of bringing one’s own shopping bag or container when purchasing goods.
The recent Urban Greening Program was implemented last 2018 by the City of Bacolod under the administration of Mayor Evelio Leonardia. With a budget of P23 Million, the goal of the program is to plant at least one million trees in Bacolod City–specifically in the Barangay of Alijis and Alangilan (Guadalquiver, 2018). Volunteers have been recruited along with the City’s Environment and Natural Resource Office (CENRO) to undertake the task of planting seedlings such as narra, jackfruit, and acacia. Local trees that will flourish in the environment of our island. Tree planting has long been an activity to help combat the effects of deforestation that have occured in previous decades. Even in the secondary level, there have been schools, public and private, that employ this activity to raise awareness within the student population to raise awareness about the current state of the Earth. These activities would be considered to be in line with the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 passed by the Legislature.
The LGU of the City of Bacolod have implemented ordinances and resolutions in an effort to curb the effects of climate change caused by waste and pollution generated by man. However, as of writing, the city and its people can still benefit from additional programs and policies for the improvement and rehabilitation of its environment according to the secondary data gathered by the researchers. The current position is a good start but the problems concerning climate change, which has been caused by generations of, need solutions that would permeate deeper into the various processes. This is especially true of the commercial sector who contribute the most to the waste and pollution of the air, water, and the land. Stricter guidelines for operations should be implemented more strictly by the city government and maybe even the national government. Since the government is put in place by the people to manage the society as a whole, they are the ones at the forefront and the ones expected to lead the change of society for better. This is their responsibility as it is mandated upon them by the highest law of the land, our 1987 Constitution.
Furthermore, the changes that must be implemented must be followed as well by the citizens as it is their duty to themselves, their country, and the future generations as stewards of this earth in order to live in a balanced and healthful ecology. The government should also instill within the people through proper education of the effects of being wasteful and negligent of our environment. To reverse or even just halt the current effects of climate change on our planet, the movement of an entire society who aspire to change their mindset and actions is the most viable solution. If there be the need for fines and penalties for those who are mindless in their consumption and waste, be it so. As each citizen must be held responsible for actions which will not only affect the people of Bacolod City but later on, the entire planet. In order to change the current state of the environment, the act of one person is not enough. What has been destroyed by many can only be rebuilt by the same. We as a society must go hand-in-hand, to do our part to become mindful and sustainable people in lieu with the provisions of our Constitution as well.
The researchers acknowledge that Bacolod City is in dire need of a Climate Change Act which creates for the city a Climate Change Commission with qualified staff and adequate funding. This will pave the way for a stronger local institution and coordinate in the city in regard to environmental protection. The Commission should be tasked in conducting research in regard to the effects of climate change in Bacolod City which will in turn guide the local government’s formulation and implementation of a more defined mainstreaming strategy. It must detail the regulation frameworks and rules which will facilitate the creation of projects and initiatives from other government agencies in the city. The Commission may oversee the initiatives on strengthening sector agencies and local government units as a prerequisite to mainstreaming climate change mitigation and adaptation in sector and local policies, plans and programs. Focused on developing the financing facilities for adaptation and disaster response.
Mainstreaming adaptation and disaster risk management in key national, subnational, and sectoral development policies, plans, and programs. At present, climate risk concerns are still not mainstreamed at the national, subnational, and sectoral levels, although a number of sectors and a few LGUs (e.g., Province of Albay, Makati City) have started doing this. The government can use the existing review and approval process of sector programs and projects by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)–Interagency Coordination Committee to mainstream climate change in programs and projects. This group’s review guidelines can be 42 amended to include mainstreaming of climate change into any programs and projects proposed by sector agencies. In line with this, NEDA should also revisit the formula of computing a project’s financial internal rate of return to take into consideration the additional cost and benefits involved in protecting investments from the impacts of climate change. For example, designing climate-resilient irrigation systems and farm-to-market roads may entail reduction in the project’s overall financial internal rate of return under the current formula used by NEDA because of the additional investment cost. The long-term gains, however, of protecting investment from climate change impacts may outweigh the initial cost. This presents a good opportunity to mainstream into key decision-making processes by providing the government with the results of relevant studies and by offering further technical assistance, such as the establishment of scenarios for development planning, programming, and project evaluation purposes, expert support, and aid for stakeholder consultations.
At the LGU level, mainstreaming can take place in many different ways. One is through the LGU’s comprehensive land use plan required under the Local Government Code. Another is through the five-year development plan and the annual investment plan of the LGU. The government and funding institutions may require mainstreaming before agreeing to finance any investment at the local level. Improving and building capacity for disaster preparedness, response, post-recovery, rehabilitation, and long-term reconstruction. The government’s focus is on strengthening the capacities of institutions, especially at the local level, to reduce vulnerabilities to the impacts of natural disasters and to better manage disaster risks. Government programs should also include post-recovery, rehabilitation, and long-term reconstruction to ensure that displaced individuals will be able to reestablish their normal way of life in a timely manner. The country’s disaster management system is mostly reactive, and natural hazard risk management is not well integrated into development planning. A few local initiatives exist, such as those in the province of Albay, which is taking a strong initiative to promote climate risk management and disaster preparedness. This is the first LGU to work on disaster- and climate-proof adaptation measures, including strengthening and improving evacuation sites, introducing climate change into school curricula, and training local officials.
“Bacolod first city in PH to declare climate emergency” Sun Star Bacolod, July 20, 2019.
Retrieved from: https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/1815146
Guadalquiver, Nanette. “Bacolod City gets P23-M for Urban Greening Program” Philippine
News Agency, March 24, 2018. Retrieved from:
Philippine Initiatives to Address Environmental Issues, Philippine Commission on Women, n.d..
Retrieved from: https://www.pcw.gov.ph/focus-areas/environment/
Singuay, Mae. “Program aims for ‘zero waste’”, Panay News, January 17, 2019. Retrieved from:
The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, Tenth Congress of the Republic of the
Philippines, 1997. Retrieved from: https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1997/12/22/
The Biofuels Act, Thirteenth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, 2006. Retrieved from:
The Philippine Clean Air Act, Eleventh Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, 1999.
Retrieved from: http://pepp.emb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/RA-8749-
The Philippine Clean Water Act, Twelfth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, 2004.
Retrieved from: https://emb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/RA-9275.pdf.
It has been a tough journey for the researchers to accomplish this research paper. With this, they would like to take this opportunity to extend their gratitude to the following people.
First, their dearest teacher, Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, for her constant guidance in this journey of crafting this legal research paper. Her utmost patience, dedication, and tough love have inspired them to pursue their goal despite the setbacks they encountered.
The researchers would also like to thank their friends who helped them complete this research paper by giving their insights and suggestions for improvement. Their moral support boosted the researchers’ confidence and determination when they were done and doubting if they could finish.
Also, their academic institution, University of Saint La Salle, for opening up opportunities where they can unravel new legal understanding and for being an avenue where they can cultivate analytical learning.
Most importantly, they would not be able to accomplish this paper without the help of God, who provided them with His gift of strength, knowledge, and guidance and for leading them to the right path towards success.
- About the Researchers
The researchers are first year Juris Doctor students from the University of Saint La Salle.
Ana Rustica Abalos is a Legal Management graduate from the University of Santo Tomas located in Espana Boulevard, Sampaloc, Manila, 1008, Metro Manila. She recently moved to Bacolod City to pursue her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Saint La Salle.
Anna Mae Amar is a registered Psychometrician who graduated from the University of Saint La Salle. She is a proud Talisaynon and has continually advocated for marine life. It is worth noting that her advocacy is perfect for the focal points of the study.
Gabrielle Martina Diaz is an Organizational Communication graduate hailing from De La Salle University Manila. While in her college days, she usually takes part in environmental protection programs hosted by her University. This interest of hers helped fuel the interest of the researchers to take part in this study.
Mitzi Caryl Encarnacion is a Consular and Diplomatic Affairs graduate from the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde Manila. She pursued the study of law in order to fulfill her dream of becoming an Ambassador for the country and environmental protection.
The researchers conducted the above study in fulfillment of their requirements in their Legal Research and Writing course for the first semester of SY 2019-2020.