31 May 2016

Climate Change Commission urges government, private sector to invest in climate-resilient social housing
The Climate Change Commission (CCC) is urging the government and the business community to tap into the potential of the construction sector to fight climate change by investing in affordable, sustainable and resilient housing and buildings.

Underscoring the importance of the buildings sector in climate change mitigation and adaptation, CCC vice chair Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman said the industry could easily and effectively enable cities to make significant climate contributions.

“The buildings sector has an oversized environmental footprint. More than 30 percent of global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions are buildings-related, and emissions could double by 2050 if we carry on business as usual in a time of rapid urbanization and explosive demographics,” de Guzman said in a speech delivered during a climate change forum with the business and finance sectors, held in Makati City on Tuesday.

In the Philippines, he said, the buildings sector and social housing can be transformed through its Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), which seeks to cut by 70 percent the country’s GHG emissions across major economic sectors.

He said the country will be able to reduce and ultimately phase out GHG emissions produced by the buildings sector by transforming the way buildings are designed, built and operated.

“The social sector housing needs to provide access to low-cost yet resilient homes to ensure security and safety for occupants. The design, construction and operation of today’s houses and buildings need to incorporate and address concerns of adaptation to climate change,” de Guzman said.

He noted that for a start, the government should revisit the country’s 38-year-old National Shelter Program (NSP) to make it more responsive to climate change.

“It will be worthwhile for this forum to revisit the [NSP], a housing initiative undertaken by the national government as early as 1978—a very long time ago when climate change was not yet a global issue,” he said.

The NSP was created with the aim of increasing the housing stock for half of the nation’s poorest population. The program called for the direct production of housing units by government and the provision of public funds to encourage the private sector to produce social housing developments.

“Is the NSP being continued today? Are current government housing units being built to climate change standards? Do the community plans include green environment and green infrastructure? We should find out about current public housing projects in order to make them NAMAs-oriented, climate-resilient and green,” de Guzman pointed out.

“Let us have no doubt that NAMAs can work for us to overcome investment barriers. Above all, NAMAs can help us bring about the transformational change we badly need in our society as we strive—together with our global partners—to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Remember, we ‘need 1.5 to stay alive and thrive’,” he added.

De Guzman said the buildings sector offers one of the most cost-effective and economically beneficial paths for reducing energy demand and associated emissions while supporting adaptation and resilience to climate change.

“The economic, health and social benefits of sustainable buildings are significant. Buildings provide shelter, places to live, work, learn and socialize, directly affecting our daily lives,” he explained.

“Providing more than 50 percent of global wealth, and one of the largest employers at the local level, this sector also offers a path to poverty alleviation.”

The forum, “Climate Change Forum with Private and Finance Sectors Involvement in NAMAs”, was the product of the 2015 Manila Declaration on Climate Change, which is the business sector’s response to the global imperative of reducing GHGs.

“We recognize the importance of engaging the private business community in the housing development of the country. We are willing and eager to sit down with the buildings sector to find business sector to invest in low-income housing and other green building initiatives,” de Guzman said.

He said the forum is expected to result in broader awareness and commitment from the financial and private sectors in implementing climate initiatives.

“In the context of our developing country, [NAMAs] will help us to work more effectively toward our sustainable goals, as well as to foster the economic and social priorities of the new administration,” he added. PND

Palace welcomes Philippines’ ranking in latest World Competitiveness Yearbook
Malacañang on Tuesday welcomed the latest World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) rankings of the International Institute of Management Development, which showed the Philippines at 42nd place among 61 economies and 12th among 14 Asia-Pacific countries.

The report was based on 342 criteria clustered under four broad categories — economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency, and infrastructure, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

“We note the WCY report stated the Philippines registered marked improvements in business efficiency and infrastructure and remained stable in government efficiency, while the country’s workforce emerged as the economy’s most attractive feature. The country’s ranking remains stable and resilient in the face of a general decline among most Asian economies, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and mainland China,” Secretary Coloma said.

The Palace official added that during the past six years, the Philippines has made “significant gains in its WCY, surging by more than 43 places from 85th place in 2010, buoyed largely by the social and economic reforms anchored on good governance that President Aquino has instituted during his term”.

“And as the Aquino administration prepares to step down from power, we prepare to step down, we shall pass on a stronger, more competitive and broad-based and inclusive economy to the next administration,” Coloma said.

Hong Kong topped the rankings (from second in 2015), followed by Switzerland (from fourth in 2015), and the United States, which dropped from first place.

The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook is the leading annual report on the competitiveness of nations and has been published by IMD since 1989. It benchmarks the performance of 61 countries based on more than 340 criteria measuring different facets of competitiveness. PND (jm)

Malacañang defends implementation of Executive Order 203
The Palace has defended the implementation of Executive Order (EO) No. 203, saying it is a product of an extensive study by the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) in the past few years.

“The government remains steadfast in its commitment to improve the salaries and benefits of all government workers, including those in the Government-Owned or –Controlled Corporation (GOCC) Sector, pursuant to the objective of formulating a ‘competitive compensation and remuneration system which shall attract and retain talent’, while ensuring the financial soundness and sustainability of the GOCCs,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Contrary to the allegation of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, the implementation of Executive Order No. 203 (s. 2016) [Adopting a Compensation and Position Classification System and A General Index of Occupational Services (IOS)] is a product of an extensive and rigorous study by the Governance Commission for GOCCs since 2012.”

He noted that the development of the CPCS and IOS is part of the GCG’s primary responsibilities, as mandated by Republic Act No. 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.

Executive Order 203 acts as the counterpart measure of EO 201, which implemented a modified salary schedule for civilian government personnel and authorized the grant of additional benefits for both civilian and military uniformed personnel, he said.

The TUCP has questioned the implementation of the President’s order, arguing that it favors only top executives of GOCCs and neglects ordinary workers.

The labor group is urging President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to stop the implementation of the CPCS, and instead order a review and amendment of the provision on the compensation system. PND (as)