The House of Representatives elected Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol (AKB) as the Chairman of the newly created Special Committee on Climate Change. The Special Committee is tasked to look into policies and programs to address the worsening impacts of climate change to the environment, as characterized by global warming, greenhouse effect, rising of sea levels and shifts in meteorological patterns. Batocabe’s election came at the heels of the state visit to the Philippines this week of French President Francois Hollande who will reportedly issue together with President Aquino a joint call for the world to act together in responding to climate change.

Batocabe thanked the House leadership headed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and his colleagues for the trust and confidence in electing him to lead a very vital special committee. He said his election is doubly significant since he comes from the Bicol region, considered as one of the most disaster-prone and vulnerable areas in the country.

“The Committee shall be a hardworking committee which shall closely work with national agencies to come up with remedial legislation to further strengthen our national climate change agenda. Together with the Joint Congressional Oversight on Climate Change of which I am a member and other relevant committees of the House, we shall scrutinize policies, programs and projects on climate change by the executive to ensure that vulnerable communities all over the country will genuinely become resilient.”, Batocabe declared. “I commit to championing the cause of all local governments in the Philippines to ensure that the full power of Congress is mobilized in ensuring that our vulnerable communities are able to adapt to the impacts of climate change and disasters,” he added.

Batocabe also noted that based on the latest Global Assessment Report, the Philippines has been ranked as the number one most vulnerable country in the world. “We now need to brace for more Yolandas because the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has again issued a global warning that extreme weather events will continue to increase in frequency and severity,” he emphasized.

Batocabe also vowed to look into the status of implementation of the National Climate Change Action Plan, and consequently the program on Local Climate Change Action Plan, noting that it has been five (5) years since Congress enacted the Climate Change Act, and three (3) years since its amendatory law was promulgated.

“This year is also crucial because the Hyogo Framework for Action will end, and a new one will be crafted, so I am anticipating that there will be a more enhanced emphasis on the role of local governments in the campaign for climate actions. In addition, global negotiations on addressing climate change should have more binding agreements that will come out of the Conference of Parties in Paris, late this year. The Philippines should be at the forefront of all of these developments because of our extreme vulnerability,” the Representative further added.

Congressman Deogracias Ramos (LP, 2nd District, Sorsogon) replaced Batocabe as Chair of the Special Committee on Bicol Recovery and Economic Development.

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