Who is our country’s climate change champion?
Now that we are battered by soaring heat indexes this summer and again threatened by stronger El Niño-induced typhoons in the coming months, people are learning to accept that we must adapt and mitigate its dire effects.
And if one talks about meeting head-on these climactic changes, there is one Filipino politician who stands out domestically and globally. This is none other than three-time Albay governor, three-time congressman, and incumbent Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda.
He successfully “climate -proofed” his province and rebuilt it after heavy destruction unleashed by Typhoon Reming in 2006. His highly successful disaster risk strategy of adaptation and mitigation during climate emergencies in his province produced an unprecedented “zero casualty” track record of 21 out of 22 years. It is now adapted nationwide by all LGUs during calamities.
UNESCO was so impressed with Salceda’s innovative Disaster Risk Reduction strategy for Albay that the province was included in its worldwide network of protected biosphere nature in February 2016. He was also named the first UN Senior Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation.
Salceda’s views were so highly respected in international climate policy making, as he led several Philippine delegations to global climate change summits called Conference of the Parties (COPs) around the world. He became a member of the elite Board of the Green Climate Fund representing the Asia-Pacific Region and designated as an Advisor-United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Transnational Committee.
In 2013-2014, Rep. Salceda was named co-chairman of the Green Climate Fund which includes 194 country-members, and he pushed vigorously for the creation of the Initial Resource Mobilization (IRM3) fund of $10.2 billion, that will help vulnerable and poor countries like the Philippines to adapt to climate impacts.
And since that time, our country benefitted from GCF, with five projects worth P 4.84-B ($89.6 Million) and another five readiness activities with P108-M ($2.2M) approved and P17-M ($314K) disbursed.
Also available for climate stricken LGUs are two other global funds, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) a family of funds to confront biodiversity loss, and the Adaptation Fund (AF) under the Kyoto Protocol for vulnerable developing countries. Clearly, Salceda’s global initiative was heeded and now, richer nations with bigger carbon imprints are now compensating climatically damaged poor countries with these various funds. It is now up to our national government thru the Presidential Commission on Climate Change to tap this foreign help, with of course very wise counsel from our gentleman from Albay.
Because, in my humble opinion, Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, is the only, the uncontested and the real “Climate Change Champion” of our beloved country and Asia-Pacific.
LEGAZPI CITY, ALBAY: NEWEST GATEWAY TO OCEAN CRUISE LINERS
Last week, about 180 German tourists onboard the Hanseatic Nature cruise ship docked for the very first time in Legazpi City’s newest seaport.
As the vessel approached Albay Gulf, the usually reserved Germans were ecstatic. After all, who wouldn’t be captivated by the sight of the majestic Mayon Volcano? Adding to the mystique is the legend that Mayon, which is usually under cloud cover, only shows itself to the worthy.
This sight set the tone for the Philippine leg of their cruise. The German tourists were also scheduled to dock in Calaguas, also in Bicol, and Batanes. They came in from Palau and Guam. In their brief stop in Legazpi, they sampled the food, went around the city, and experienced the warmth of Bicolanos. About 250 policemen were deployed to ensure the safe and secure city-wide expedition of our visitors from Germany.
For this, we have Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co to thank for, and this seaport for cruise liners was his long-time dream for Albay. He moved heaven and earth to secure funding and start construction of the new wharf. The tourists are because we had the cruise ship. We had the cruise ship because we built the Legazpi Seaport.
Rep. Co, who is now chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, seeks to further modernize the seaport to accommodate bigger cruise ships. As it stands, the current port can only accept smaller vessels. Once the berthing area is expanded, it can accommodate giant cruise liners with as many as 2,000 guests. We can now aspire for a bigger dream for tourism in the region.
In the Hanseatic Nature cruise stop, German tourists took away a great first impression of the Philippines—the quiet grandeur of Mayon. That’s free word-of-mouth promotion of the best that the Philippines can offer.
Larger cruise ships docking at a bigger Legazpi Seaport would echo the Mayon experience louder around the world. It would translate to more income for Filipinos—and without having to leave their family, friends, and country.
A more modern Legazpi Seaport would make tourists stay in Legazpi longer. A longer stay could mean going on a historical-cultural visit to countless sites. This dream is within reach. The tourist destinations are ready. We already have a working Legazpi Seaport courtesy of Rep. Co. With the support of House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Bicolanos hope for a bigger seaport in this Queen City of South Luzon.
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