Loren warns of environmental apocalypse

PNS/ ILIGAN CITY, – Sen. Loren Legarda today warned of an environmental apocalypse in the Philippines unless the government and people act determinedly to reverse the current environmental deterioration.

Addressing a conference of the Philippine Society for the Study of Nature in this city, Loren said that “the state of the Philippine environment has deteriorated from a silent spring into the next stage, an apocalyptic one.

“All around us we are witnessing the birth of death, the refusal of life forms to flourish and to thrive, the black curtains that hang over former enclaves of bio-diversity.

She warned that “Only after the last tree has been felled, the last river poisoned, and the last fish caught, will man know that he cannot eat money.

“We have to reverse the onslaught to life, to usher in an environmental springtime, the surge of new life forms, the resurrection of forested mountains, clean air, clear rivers and bountiful seas.”

During the conference, Loren received a “Kalikasan award” from the society for her “valuable efforts” in saving and promoting the environment. For the past many years, Loren had planted over two million trees in the country through her foundation, Luntiang Pilipinas.

The foremost advocate of a green environment in the country, Loren declared that climate change has amplified the threat of catastrophic disasters arising from the steady deterioration of the environment in the Philippines over the past many years.

“We have seen what happened when the floods came. Communities that used to be impervious to floodwaters were inundated. Months after Ondoy and Pepeng, we still see the effects on the lakeshore municipalities of Laguna,” said Loren, who is the UN regional champion for climate change adaptation in Asia-Pacific, and chair of the Senate committee on climate change.

In describing the state of the Philippine environment, Loren pointed out that only 19 percent of the Philippines land area remain forested, while erosion has wiped away 50 percent of the soil’s fertile top layer in just over 10 years.

“Excavation, dredging, and coastal conversion for coastal zone development damage the marine environment, especially to coral reefs, mangroves, and sea-grasses.

“Only about 36% of the country’s river systems are classified as sources of public water supply.

“Agriculture encroachment into forestlands continues to threaten the stability of the whole forest ecosystem including the watershed areas.

“The Philippines has a 2.3% annual population growth rate and the projected total population is expected to reach 91 million. There is rapid urbanization and poor environmental governance and corruption.

“Because of overpopulation, the demand for water also rises. At least 30 million Filipinos have no access to potable water through water supply and distribution operations. Water demand nationwide is expected to grow from 43 million cubic meters per year in 2000 to 88 million cubic meters by 2025.”

While new legislation like the Climate Change Act, which she sponsored, have been passed, said Loren, the efforts to revert the trend would fail without total cooperation between government and people.

She called “for a new development thinking, a more holistic development philosophy. .. founded on sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, ecosystems protection, cultural resilience, and good governance”.

The Philippine Strategic Framework on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and the Philippine Climate Change Adaptation Action Agenda would serve as the basis for the program for climate change planning, research and development, extension and monitoring of activities on climate change.

“In line with the framework and action agenda, each local government unit shall formulate its own local climate change action plan. Local government units will be in the frontline in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas.

“Meanwhile, the national government shall extend technical and financial assistance to local government units for the accomplishment of their climate change action plans. They can also appropriate and use their funds from their Internal Revenue Allotment to implement their local plans. “