Press Release
November 7, 2009

Pia: In era of climate change, environment gets 'loose change'
in national budget

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today bewailed the Arroyo government's failure to sustain funding for three landmark environmental laws in the proposed P1.541-trillion budget for 2010.

"In the era of climate change, it's ironic how the country's three most important environmental laws will merely get loose change and will continue to languish at the bottom of government's funding priorities," said Cayetano, an environmentalist and Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice.

Cayetano is referring to Clean Air Act of 1999 (RA 8749), Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003), and the Clean Water Act of 2004 (RA 9374).

Of the three republic acts, she observed that only the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act will receive token appropriations worth a "measly P8.7 million" under the proposed 2010 budget.

"In typhoon Ondoy, we saw how many lives and billions worth of property were swept away and destroyed by raging floods caused largely by our clogged and heavily silted esteros and canals due to improper garbage disposal."

"Experts say we'll need billions just to clean up the mountains of junk from the recent floods in Metro Manila, Rizal and Laguna alone. The P8.7-million budget for garbage is a joke and needs to be drastically increased."

During last year's deliberations for the P1.4-trillion national budget for 2009, Cayetano, who then chaired the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, worked with other lawmakers and the non-government Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) for the passage of Joint Resolution No.15, which allocated substantial appropriations for the three environmental laws.

The initiative succeeded in securing P20 million as initial appropriation for the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, P49.7 million for the Clean Water Act and P15 million for the Pollution Adjudication Board, a vital component of the Clean Air Act.

"Talk about tokenism. Instead of sustaining the initial gains we achieved last year, appropriations for these laws are virtually back to zero. With its continued neglect of these environmental laws, this administration is only courting more calamities," she warned.

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