Senator Loren Legarda

Green Jobs For Filipinos

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Senator Loren Legarda today stressed on the importance of promoting green skills and green jobs, stating that it would provide employment opportunities and boost climate change adaptation efforts in the country.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Environment and Natural Resources and on Climate Change, noted that there are already 3.5 million green jobs worldwide and the Philippines has the potential to generate thousands of green jobs, especially if there are more renewable energy investments in the country.

“We take note of the government’s continuing efforts to generate more jobs for our growing population. But despite the various programs to address unemployment, we still need to do more. We can encourage our citizens to train in green skills such as management in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, environmental information technology and other careers that contribute to environmental preservation,” she explained.

“We should also strengthen efforts to encourage more renewable energy investments in the country because this industry can provide thousands of jobs for our people. According to Greenpeace, a geothermal company in the country was able to employ 2,582 individuals for a 1,189-MW plant and that a 10-megawatt solar power plant can provide jobs for 1,000 people for six months during the period of construction and 100 permanent positions for its operation and maintenance,” she added.

The Senator, citing additional data from Greenpeace, said that the availability of green jobs in other nations and regions is rapidly increasing. In Europe, there are already about 650,000 green jobs created; more than 175,000 are employed in the United States’ wind and solar industries; and China has an estimated one million green jobs.

“In generating green jobs, we also need to actively promote the importance of renewable energy projects and encourage Filipinos to consider employment in green industries which provide healthier working environment,” said Legarda.

“Our path should be towards sustainable and resilient development where progress is measured not only through material wealth, but also and more importantly, through the happiness, safety and well-being of our citizens,” Legarda concluded.

Stop Exploitation Of Marine Life, Says Senator

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AS the world celebrated Earth Day last April 22, Senator Loren Legarda renewed her call to protect marine biodiversity and preserve the country’s ecosystems.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said that the country’s natural resources, especially those within our seas, are crucial to the survival of Filipinos, especially that the Philippines is an archipelago.

“We are fortunate to have been blessed with abundant natural resources. In fact, we are one of the 17 megadiverse countries, home to majority of Earth’s species. Unfortunately, we are also one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species that are endangered or threatened with extinction,” she lamented.

“The Philippines also has one of the world’s richest marine ecosystems, characterized by extensive coral reefs, sea-grass beds and dense mangroves. But despite this richness in marine resources, about 3.9 million families still experienced hunger in the last quarter of 2013 and many of those living in coastal communities remain poor with 4 of 10 coastal residents living under poverty line,” she added.

“We must all work, in our own and simple yet big and determined steps, to help resuscitate our ailing environment. Let us turn away from extractive and consumptive way of living and strive to make a positive impact on our natural resources—may it be by saving on fuel, energy and water consumption, recycling, proper solid waste management or growing trees,” Legarda said.

“We must put an end to the exploitation and exportation of corals as well as the fishing and taking of any rare, threatened and endangered species. Our fishermen should stop the use of fine mesh net, explosives and other poisonous substance in our seas,” she added.

Last April 22, the Senator launched a video documentary on Philippine marine biodiversity to raise awareness on the current condition of the country’s marine life and underwater resources.

The project is a collaboration with award-winning director Brillante Mendoza, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Information Agency.

The documentary features marine videos from underwater videographer Robert “Bobbit” Suntay and his fellow videographers Jan Acosta, Boogs Rosales and Wowie Wong from the Network of Underwater Digital Imagers (NUDI).

“We celebrate Earth Day every year on April 22 and we are reminded to nurture our planet which abundantly provides us with the resources we need to survive. We are encouraged to strengthen our commitment to save the Earth and contribute to the sustainability of our nation,” Legarda said, in concluding her speech.

The senator also warned that neglecting our marine resources can result to hunger and poverty for millions of Filipinos. “Its (marine ecosystem) destruction affects the livelihood of coastal communities, our food supply, our tourism and our economy.”

Plans, Funds Needed For Disaster Management

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Senator Loren Legarda recently emphasized on the need to allocate sufficient funds and prioritize the implementation of action plans for disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and climate change adaptation and mitigation (CCAM).

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said climate experts have already warned of the grim scenario that nations, especially in Southeast Asia, could face due to the warming climate.

“The newest IPCC Report states that seas will rise by 26-82 centimeters by 2100. Sea level rise is a great threat to small island nations, and for an archipelago like the Philippines, it would mean more floods. We have already seen and experienced the wrath of Yolanda, how the surge of seawater engulfed communities. We cannot prevent a storm, but we can save our communities from devastation if we actually fund and implement our disaster and climate resilience plans without delay,” said Legarda.

“For instance, under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, every province, city and municipality should have a Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (LDRRMO), and every barangay should establish a Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee. Do our LGUs have these local DRRM offices? Are local DRRM officers equipped and trained to carry out their tasks? These local DRRM offices should be created to institutionalize arrangements and measures for reducing disaster risks, and enhance disaster preparedness and response capabilities at all levels,” she added.

The Senator added that with the threat of rising sea levels, LGUs must be ready to confront the worsening floods. To do this, LGUs must update their data on flood hazards and vulnerabilities, invest in flood protection and mitigation, identify safe land for families to live in and implement the solid waste management law at full speed.

“We have seen enough tragedy. Studies that warn us of our vulnerabilities have been coming in every year. Nobody can say we have not been warned. It is time disaster risk reduction and resilience efforts as well as climate adaptation and mitigation measures are given a fair share of the national budget and serious attention by our government and by every citizen,” Legarda concluded.

Legarda Calls for Enforcement of LGUs’ Land Use Plans

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Senator Loren Legarda called on concerned government agencies to ensure that the comprehensive land use plans (CLUPs) of local government units (LGUs) are being enforced.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, issued the statement during the committee hearing for the proposed National Land Use Act (NaLUA) and the Final Forest Limits Act.

She said, it is not enough that 1,500 LGUs have their respective CLUPs. “We have to make sure that these approved CLUPs are carried out effectively, which means that hazard-prone areas, forestlands, and protected areas remain uninhabited and are preserved as no building zones.”

The Senator added that national government agencies, particularly the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), must ensure that CLUPs are faithfully implemented.

Legarda also highlighted the need to approve the proposed National Land Use Act because the government is currently using an antiquated land classification method formed in the 1920s.

“We have been experiencing stronger storms, earthquakes and other natural hazards. A national land use measure is crucial in the government’s current disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts,” she stressed.

“Furthermore, LGUs play a critical role in the crafting of risk-sensitive and participatory land use planning and management. LGUs are considered to be the first line of defense against disasters so there is an urgent need for them to be capacitated, enabling them to prepare, update and implement their respective CLUPs based on policy guidelines to be set under the proposed NaLUA,” she added.

Meanwhile, Legarda also said that through the Final Forest Limits Act, “we aim to conserve, protect, and develop our forest resources to attain ecological balance and promote sustainable development.”

“With demarcated and properly identified forestlands, the national government can better plan the utilization of the natural resources of the country, and LGUs would be better equipped to initiate and implement development projects and programs with due regard to the preservation and protection of the integrity of the demarcated forest lands,” Legarda concluded.***