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Angeles University Foundation

School of Law
Angeles City
nd
2 Semester/A.Y. 2009-2010

CLIMATE CHANGE ACT OF 2009:

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

AND

EFFECTIVENESS

by

Jhoanna Mariekar V. de Guzman


Law 1A

Atty. Imelda Abadilla-Brown


Professor
(Legal Research)
RA 9729: Legal Framework & Effectiveness

March 27, 2010

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RA 9729: Legal Framework & Effectiveness

I. INTRODUCTION

Is the world – in particular the Philippines – ready to properly respond to climate

change, to ensure humanity’s survival and make life remain viable in our planet?

“In the panorama of the Earth’s geological age of 4.5 billion years, the

appearance of the precursors of homo sapiens 2 million years ago is but a

microsecond. The brevity of time notwithstanding, it is alleged that homo sapiens is the

species at the apex of the animal kingdom, having risen the evolutionary ladder

because of his cognitive, analytical, and creative mental powers. As a species however,

it must be recalled that man, as an animal, is but a strand in the web of life, inextricably

bound to the other strands by the elements of land, air, and water. We are therefore

part and parcel of Nature, a mere link in the entirety of the world around us. Being the

species that allegedly possesses the powers of thought we bear the responsibility and

play of the role of being the thinking part of Nature.” 1

Humans have carried too far the very idea that we are the most intelligent

creatures on earth. For hundreds of years, humans were in continuous search and

exploration on different materials to use for our day to day needs and luxuries in life.

Thus, we were able to reach this era in human life which we call modernism. We have

focused to a greater extent on how to make our life more convenient, more comfortable,

and more contemporary. Little, if any, consideration is given on the consequences of all

these innovations. As a result, we have “over-fished or dirtied our waters, exhausted or

contaminated our land, and spoiled the quality of the very air that we breathe”. 2

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As the years unfold, when we seemingly think that we can produce almost all that

we need to survive in this earth and when some think that they can almost hold the

whole world in their hands, the cost of all our indifferences to Nature starts to take its toll

on us.

The world in general and the Philippines in particular have been witnesses and

victims to the different catastrophes that happened lately. Mountainous regions were

swathed by mud because of landslides, provinces flustered by earthquakes, cities

devastated by typhoons like Ondoy and Pepeng, and the entire country is being

besieged by the El Nino phenomenon.

Recognizing the growing threat to sustainable development, the Philippines

adopted the Philippine Agenda 21 Framework which espouses sustainable

development, to fulfill human needs while maintaining the quality of the natural
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environment for current and future generations. Also it seeks “the stabilization of

greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent


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dangerous anthropogenic interference.” The State likewise adopts the strategic goals

in order to build national and local resilience to climate change-related disasters.5

II. NATIONAL SITUATION

A. Legal and Institutional Framework

Policy declares the desire and plan to give attention and address a particular

public concern. 6 These policies are reactions to the present situations of concerns that

the State and the citizens face. In the article of Antonio Oposa, he said that often, these

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policies are “crisis-driven in the sense that a situation must reach crisis proportions

before attention is given to a particular problem.”7 Focus on the natural resources

seemed to be the last on the list of priorities of each countries. Economic development

has always been the center of attention.

When the problem on global environmental degeneration became more and

more manifest, different countries, and Philippines alike promulgated policies and laws

to address these issues.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution expressly mandates that 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. 8


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As early as 1964, we already had the National Air and Water Act which was

later on revised and strengthened by the Pollution Control Law. 10

After the Stockholm Conference in 1972, the administration of President

Ferdinand Marcos enacted the Environmental Policy Act declaring it a national policy “to

create, develop, maintain, and improve conditions under which man and nature can

thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other.” 11

After which, the Philippine Environmental Code followed, outlining the guidelines

for the formulation of standards for natural resources management, land use

management, wildlife protection, and air and water quality, among others. 12

In 1999, the government saw it necessary to provide a specific law for the
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protection of the Air, thus the Philippine Clean Air Act was enacted. Not long after, the

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Clean Water Act of 2004 was promulgated with the policy of “formulat[ing] a holistic

national program of water quality management that recognizes that water quality

management issues cannot be separated from concerns about water sources and

ecological protection, water supply, public health and quality of life.”15

With regard the climate change in general, the Aquino administration created the

Inter Agency Committee on Climate Change (IACCC)16 and subsequently, President

Arroyo created the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change (PTFCC)17 to spearhead

the government's plan on helping the other countries and the rest of the world to

address the worsening problem on climate change.

Numerous other laws were enacted addressing the global environmental

degeneration, but all these boils down to the very idea that “a clean and healthy

environment is for the good of all and should, therefore, be the concern of all”. 18

B. Economic and Non-Economic Impacts of Climate Change

Climate change is existent and is really happening. This can be proven by

changing ecosystem, melting polar caps, dying coral reefs, extreme weather events,

and severe droughts.

According to Greenpeace Asia Energy Revolution, climate change is more than a

warming trend. Based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Third

Assessment Report, “increasing temperatures will lead to changes in many aspects of

weather, such as wind patterns, the amount and type of precipitation, and the types and

frequency of severe weather events that may be expected to occur. Such climate

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change could have far-reaching and/or unpredictable environmental, social and

economic consequences. Some of the likely impacts of climate change are:

1. Loss of fresh water: Within 50 years, the number of people facing water
shortages will soar up to 5 billion out of a total of 8 billion.
2. Decline in agriculture output: It seems obvious that any significant change in
climate on a global scale should impact local agriculture, and therefore affect the
world's food supply.
3. Decreased soil fertility and erosion: The shift of vegetation, droughts, and change
in precipitation will increase desertification. This will indirectly lead to increased
use of chemical fertilizers, and industrial pollution.
4. Pests and diseases: Conditions will be more favorable for the proliferation of
insect pests in warmer climates, such as mosquitoes carrying malaria.
5. Sea-level rise: As the world warms sea water itself will expand in size. This effect
combined with the partial melting of land-based glaciers such as the Greenland
Ice Sheet and sea-ice will result in a rise of sea level ranging from 0.1 to 0.5
meters by the middle of the next century. Such a rise will pose a threat to coastal
communities, agriculture, coastal fresh water sources, as well as, threaten the
existence of some Island states.
6. Increased occurrence of extreme weather events: The increased number of
droughts, floods, storms, etc has a huge impact on society and economy.” 19

The organization also said that in the Philippines, “with climate change will come

water shortages and decreases in agricultural productivity and food security. Health will

be threatened by heat stress and increased chances of exposure to infectious

diseases.”20

Studies showed that there is also a tendency that the homes of those living in

low-lying coastal areas may be destroyed and the industry of tourism, to which many

Filipinos rely on, will also decline.

The extreme weather, floods, and droughts that we are already experiencing are

likely to worsen. Scientists had predicted that as extreme climate events increase in

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strength and frequency, more and more people are at a risk of losing their homes and

worse, their lives.

Climate change and its depressing impacts is an international issue that

concerns all fields of research and expertise including politics and economics.

A number of conferences and negotiations have been organized globally

concerning this anthropogenic phenomenon and one of its active supporters is the

Philippines. As part of its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on

Climate Change and the recent Copenhagen Convention in 2009, the Philippines has

formulated a law that aims to address the growing and worsening impact of climate

change in the country.

III. R.A. 9729: CLIMATE CHANGE ACT OF 2009 21

In October 23, 2009, Congress passed R.A. 9729 to provide for the legislative

framework in addressing the oppressive problem of climate change in the country. The

National Government has promulgated the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A.
22
9729 on January 2010 per Administrative Order No. 2010 – 01 . In view of the

pressing problem of climate change, this is the opportune time to assess its overall

conceptual approach in order to contextualize the implementation prospect of the

legislation and predict the likely challenges ahead.

A. Salient Features of the Law

Among the highlights of the law are:

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• It establishes a Climate Change Commission which shall be an independent and


autonomous body and shall have the same status as that of a national
government agency. It shall be attached to the Office of the President. The
Commission shall be the sole policy-making body of the government which shall
be tasked to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the programs and action plans of
the government relating to climate change pursuant to the provisions of this
Act. The Commission shall be organized within sixty (60) days from the effectivity
of this Act. (Section 4, RA 9729)
• The Commission shall be composed of the President of the Republic of the
Philippines who shall serve as the Chairperson, and three (3) Commissioners to
be appointed by the President, one of whom shall serve as the Vice Chairperson
of the Commission. (Section 5, RA 9729)

• The powers and functions of the Climate Change Commission as enumerated in


Section 9, RA 9729.

• The Commission shall, within six (6) months from the effectivity of this Act,
formulate a Framework Strategy on Climate Change. The Framework shall serve
as the basis for a program for climate change planning, research and
development, extension, and monitoring of activities to protect vulnerable
communities from the adverse effects of climate change. The Framework shall
be formulated based on climate change vulnerabilities, specific adaptation needs,
and mitigation potential, and in accordance with the international agreements.
The Framework shall be reviewed every three (3) years, or as may be deemed
necessary.(Sec. 11, RA 9729)

• The Commission shall formulate a National Climate Change Action Plan in


accordance with the Framework within one (1) year after the formulation of the
latter. (Sec. 13, RA 9729)

• The LGUs shall be the frontline agencies in the formulation, planning and
implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas,
consistent with the provisions of the Local Government Code, the Framework,
and the National Climate Change Action Plan. (Sec. 14, RA 9729)

B. Institutional Approach

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At the onset, the Climate Change Act declares as a matter of public policy the

need to “cooperate with the global community in the resolution of climate change

issues, including disaster risk reduction [and] x x x to enjoin the participation of national

and local governments, businesses, non-government organizations, local communities

and the public to prevent and reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and, at the
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same time, maximize the benefits of climate change.” The law further recognized the

need for the State to “strengthen, integrate, consolidate and institutionalize government

initiatives to achieve coordination in the implementation of plans and programs to

address climate change in the context of sustainable development.” 24

For this purpose, the Climate Change Act established a Climate Change

Commission designated as the lead government agency tasked to spearhead efforts to

strengthen, integrate, consolidate and institutionalize government initiatives to achieve

synergy in the implementation of climate change plans and programs.

Pursuant to Section 4 hereof, the Commission is “an independent and

autonomous body” and “shall be the sole policy-making body of the government which

shall be tasked to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the programs and action plans of

the government relating to climate change pursuant to the provisions of [the] Act.

Although the Commission has been empowered to ensure the mainstreaming of

climate change, in synergy with disaster risk reduction, into national, sectoral, and local

development plans and programs,25 the Climate Change Act separately identifies the

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functions of other governmental agencies and departments consistent with their existing

mandates “to ensure the effective implementation of the framework strategy and

program on climate change.”

On this regard, the Department of Education is tasked to integrate climate

change into the primary and secondary education curricula and/or subjects; the

Department of Interior and Local Government is mandated to facilitate the development

and provision of a training program for LGUs in climate change; the Department of

Environment and Natural Resources is designated to oversee the establishment and

maintenance of a climate change information management system and network; the

Department of Foreign Affairs is mandated to review international agreements related to

climate change and make the necessary recommendation for ratification and

compliance by the government agencies, institutions, and LGUs; the Philippine

Information Agency is primarily responsible in disseminating information on climate

change, local vulnerabilities and risk, relevant laws and protocols and adaptation and

mitigation measures; and the different Government financial institutions are ordered to

provide preferential financial packages for climate change-related projects, in

consultation with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Consistent with the Philippine Agenda 21's basic principle of collective choices

and responsibility, the Climate Change Act facilitates coherent and cooperative human

endeavor from all sectors of society.

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The Climate Change Act proposes a scale and level of intervention that is area-

based. Hence, it requires a plan that is designed, owned and implemented at the local

levels. As already provided for in the law, localization efforts are at the core of

implementing the action agenda. Localization is a process that involves the formulation

of local sustainable development action agenda, and the establishment of local


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sustainable development councils to implement the said agenda. Philippine Agenda

21 sees that localization will ensure that sustainable development takes root in each

region, province, city, and municipality.

IV. ANALYSIS

To make the law better achieve its purpose, the spirit of international cooperation

shall be upheld in the areas of mutually beneficial exchange of information and

technology as well as in generating finance and financing mechanisms. The country

shall also remain steadfast in fulfilling its commitments in relevant global agreements.

At best, the Climate Change Act of 2009 reiterates what the international

community recognize as the most pressing problem faced by humanity that needs to be

addressed.

However, another law is not what the country needs really. What we need is a

concrete plan to help mitigate the effects of climate change, if not totally solve this

problem.

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There are already existing laws and promulgations prior to the enactment of the

Climate Change Act of 2009.

In 1991, President Aquino created the IACCC under the Environmental

Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

through Presidential Order No. 220. The essential mandate of the IACC is to perform

various coordinative, development and monitoring functions with respect to activities

related to climate change in the county. As an organization that is at the forefront in

advancing the government’s climate change agenda, the IACC likewise formulates

policy actions and recommendations while at the same time assumes a very significant

role in terms of shaping the Philippines’ national positions in the various international

negotiations that aim to mitigate the effects of global climate change and prevent the

worse possible consequences of this.

Just a year after the creation of the IACC, the Philippines signed the United

Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and have agreed to the

mandate that "should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future

generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common

but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities." The IACC therefore

ensures the Philippines’ faithful compliance to the mandates and principles contained in

the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol and sees to it that adequate public awareness

campaign and initiatives are held to bring the issue to all the sectors of the country.

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In 1997, the country drafted the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAP),

becoming one of the world's first countries to produce such a plan. The NAP is a

framework aimed to identify the general thrusts for stakeholders, particularly the

government, to address the issue of climate change.

In the year 2007, the Arroyo administration created the PTFCC through

Administrative Order (AO) 171 in recognition of the "urgent need to confront the issue of

climate change and decisively address its adverse effects on the people and the

production sectors". She then appointed herself as head in 2008 and replaced DOE

Secretary Angelo Reyes so she can have a "hands-on approach in crafting and

implementing initiatives for environmental security".

Notably, pursuant to Section 23 of the newly passed Climate Change Act, the

long existing IACC and PTFCC were abolished in view of the newly established Climate

Change Commission. This newly created Commission has the very same function and

power as the two preceding agencies tasked “to harness and synergize the various

activities being undertaken by the national government and civil society in response to

the crisis posed by growing problem on climate change.”

Moreover, the National Action Plan drafted in 1997 will be disregarded as the

new Commission is to draft a new one that will be adopted by the LGUs.

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Instead of the Philippines, already being on the next stage towards addressing

the problem on climate change – execution and implementation of action plans – the

Climate Change Act brought us back to the first stage of mere planning and drafting.

Climate change was caused by a series of human acts that led to the depletion of

the ozone layer. It is apparent therefore that the solution to mitigate the effects of

climate change must also be in a series. This means that the strategies and actions

should be a continuous whole or a continuum. It must also be progressive.

The act of the government clearly is not progressive. The officials seem to have

been looking at solutions in isolation.

V. CONCLUSION

The Climate Change Act devolved to local government units and other agencies

some aspects of formulation, planning, and implementation of climate change action

plans. It is also worth noting that a clear time period has been set for these LGUs to do

their respective parts. The law clearly set a time-frame for these LGUs to present to the

Commission their action plans. The one month period after the LGU's adoption shall be

devoted to create, amend, modify and/or revise their action plans. It is worth stressing

that devolution can encourage the local governments to take an active role in helping to

address climate change.

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But in spite all these good points of the law, it must be stressed out that

everything does not stop on the creation of a law. It is just the starting point towards the

real solution. Efforts must be concentrated on implementing these laws instead of just

constantly enacting new laws to create new agencies that have no real difference with

the existing ones.

---------------------------------
Footnote:
1.
Oposa, Antonio A. (1997)The Role of Courts in Environmental Protection Law: IBP Journal and Magazine, Vol.
XXIII (3), 88-93.
2
Ibid.
3
Philippine Agenda 21 <http://pcsd.neda.gov.ph/pa21.htm
4
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change FCCC Convention Text
5
Hyogo Framework for Action <http://www.proventionconsortium.org/?pageid=36
6
Oposa, Antonio A. (1997)The Role of Courts in Environmental Protection Law: IBP Journal and Magazine, Vol.
XXIII (3), 88-93.
7
Ibid.
8
Constitution (1987), Article II, Section 16
9
Republic Act 3931
10
Presidential Decree 984
11
Presidential Decree 1151
12
Presidential Decree 1152
13
Republic Act 8749
14
Republic Act 9275
15
Ibid., Section 2
16
Administrative Order No. 220
17
Administrative Order No. 171
18
Republic Act 8749, Section 2
19
Climate Change <http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/asia-energy-revolution/climate-change
20
Ibid.
21
Republic Act 9729
22
Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9729
23
Republic Act 9729, Section 2
24
Ibid.
25
Republic Act 9729, Section 9 (a)
26
Philippine Agenda 21 <http://pcsd.neda.gov.ph/pa21.htm

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