Survey shows 60% of Filipinos unaware, not informed of climate change

MORE THAN half of Filipinos or 60% have not heard or feel that they are not ‘well-informed’ about climate change, according to a research conducted by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) published on October 20.

The study, titled “Public Perception of Climate Change and DisasterPreparedness: Evidence from the Philippines,” indicates that only 12% of respondents feel that they are extremely knowledgeable about the global phenomenon.

“Bicol stood out as the region with the highest percentage of people who never heard of climate change at 38%,” the study said.

The research by HHI was based on data collected from a random survey involving 5,184 adults across the country, and was conducted between the months of March and April 2017.

“Though collected three years ago, these data continue to be relevant today as the impacts of climate change have only worsened,” HHI Resilient Communities Program Director Vincenzo Bolletino said.

Despite the low level of awareness, the Harvard study revealed that 71% of Filipinos believe that they can be “somewhat affected” by climate change, with about 46% thinking that they will be injured, harmed, or get ill from its effects.

Among the 17 regions in the Philippines, residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) were the most concerned that they will contract a disease or be harmed due to the effects of climate change.

Mr. Bolletino said the research data points out that Filipinos who are concerned about the effects of climate change actually prepare and take action for possible disasters in the future.

“These findings support efforts taken to raise awareness of climate change and its anticipated impacts on the Philippines,” he said.

According to the study, other climate change risks that respondents see include income loss, damage to crops, house and property damage, farms becoming inarable farming, and change of livelihood.

Meanwhile, the study said that 47% believe that climate change was caused by a combination of natural and human factors, while 42% said the disasters that they experienced were caused by the phenomenon.

“However, 47% of those living in Zamboanga Peninsula, for instance, strongly disagreed that climate change was linked to disasters,” the study said.

In conclusion, the HHI research said Filipinos who perceive that climate-related changes will directly affect their households and those who have been directly affected by such changes have undertaken preparations like material improvements to their homes and planning their future actions.

“The findings of their study imply that adaptation to climate change and disaster preparedness are inherently associated and potentially mutually reinforcing,” HHI said.

Since 2015, HHI has been doing research and training programs on disaster and climate resilience and humanitarian leadership in the Philippines. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Solon nudges Senate on pending bill for OFW department

A MEMBER of the House of Representatives called on Senate to fast-track the passage of a bill creating a separate department for Filipino workers abroad, following the alleged maltreatment committed by the Philippine ambassador to Brazil against her Filipino household staff.

“The House of Representatives sent House Bill No. 5832 to the Senate last March 16, 2020, so it is now up to the Senate whether Congress can give our OFWs (Overseas Filipino workers) and other overseas Filipinos a new law meant to create as separate department to address their needs,” ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Jocelyn P. Tulfo said.

The proposed law aims to create a Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment, which will be in charge of OFW-related policies and programs.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday also called on lawmakers to expedite the bill, but citing the urgent need to have an agency that will focus on OFW concerns, especially amid displacements prompted by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Duterte said the Department of Labor and Employment cannot solely handle the needs of OFWs given its responsibilities on in-country policies and programs. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Local governments ordered to resume road clearing program

THE DEPARTMENT of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday directed on local government officials to resume road clearing operations by November 15, with consideration on the quarantine status of the area.

In a briefing on Wednesday, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said a new memorandum has been issued ordering the resumption of the program intended to clear roads and sidewalks of all obstructions.

“We acknowledge the threat posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), hence, we still take into consideration the quarantine classification of the LGU (local government unit),” he said.

The road clearing operations were suspended in March following the declaration of lockdown measures.

Under the new directive, local governments have until January 15 to complete the clearing operations. — Gillian M. Cortez 

Red-tagging of legislators, celebrities justifies TRO vs anti-terrorism law

THE RELENTLESS red-tagging of cause-oriented legislators and celebrities is another reason for the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the controversial anti-terrorism law, a solon said Wednesday.

Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman said the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act has emboldened military officials like Lt. Gen. Antonio G. Parlade, Jr. to label lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives as “terrorists” for allegedly being “card-bearing” members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Mr. Lagman said  granted that the members of the Makabayan bloc are indeed affiliated with the CPP, “Parlade forgets that membership in the CPP is legal after the Anti-Subversion Law was repealed in 1992 or 28 years ago.”

Mr. Parlade is the spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

A total of 37 petitions are pending before the Supreme Court against the law.

“The persecution and execution of human rights advocates and defenders will intensify if the implementation of the constitutionally-infirm law is not restrained pending final adjudication of the 37 petitions,” Mr. Lagman said.

Meanwhile, House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate on Wednesday denied National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon’s statement that there are underground organizations inside the Makabayan bloc and other progressive groups.

“Like his paranoid protege, Gen. Parlade, Esperon is just spouting out lies and fake news but does not present evidence that would stand up in court,” Mr. Zarate said. “Obviously, they don’t want to settle the issue with solid evidence  in court that is why they would rather further malign us in public.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza