MANILA – The government is seeking a PHP152.35 billion budget for the implementation of its convergence program on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction next year.

This was according to the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR), chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In a press release Sunday, the Cabinet cluster said the Duterte administration has allotted PHP152.35 billion for the government’s Risk Resiliency Program (RRP) under the 2021 National Expenditure Program it submitted to Congress.

The amount is roughly 30 percent higher than the PHP117 billion allocated for the program this year, it added.

The increase was due to alignment of programs and activities to the priority policies, strategies and projects of the Inter-Agency Task Force Technical Working Group on Anticipatory and Forward Plan for the “new normal” in the CCAM-DDR sector.

DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems and Climate Change, Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, said the proposed funding will be used to build resilient and sustainable communities as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

“We are still in the midst of a health crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The country needs programs that will strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacities of its communities, especially in climate-vulnerable provinces and major urban centers,” Rebuelta-Teh said.

The RRP aims to increase the adaptive capacities of vulnerable communities; ensure the adequate supply of clean air, water, and other natural resources; increase the resilience of critical infrastructures; and enhance knowledge, access to information and institutional capacities of communities.

For next year, the RRP will prioritize 14 climate-vulnerable provinces, which vary in risk factors of rise in sea levels, extreme rainfall and heating events, increased ocean temperature and disturbed natural resources supply.

The provinces are Masbate, Sorsogon, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Sarangani, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

The program also covers four major urban centers — Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Iloilo and Metro Davao.

Earlier, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said addressing climate change remains a top priority for the government even if it is currently preoccupied on controlling the spread of Covid-19.

Cimatu said the climate emergency is like the Covid-19 crisis “just in slow motion and much graver” for it potentially poses existential risks for future generations.

“The government — through the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR — will prioritize actions and investments that will reduce the long term health impacts and increase our resilience and adaptive capacity to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change,” Cimatu said.

Aside from DENR, other members of the Cabinet Cluster included in the proposed budgetary proposal, are the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of National Defense-Office of Civil Defense, the Department of Science and Technology, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Department of Energy, the Climate Change Commission, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Public Works and Highways. (DENR PR)

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