Press Release
August 25, 2010

Government agencies admit to World Bank lobbying for climate loans

Manila, August 25 -- DPWH and PAG-ASA admitted today that the World Bank has been aggressively pushing for government agencies to accept WB climate financing. The admission took place during the second Senate hearing on the chaos reigning over the administration of climate in the Philippine government. "The Bank's hand has been caught in the climate cookie jar," said Milo Tanchuling of the Freedom from Debt Coalition. "The WB is part of the problem and has no business peddling itself as a conduit for climate finance for the Philippines."

The hearing was called in response to resolutions filed in July by Senator Enrile calling for an inquiry over reported violations of the Climate Change Act (RA9729) and an investigation into the controversy over climate finance in the Philippines. The hearing revealed further issues resulting from the one-man rule prevailing over the Climate Change Commission, the body formed to lead the country's response to the climate crisis.

"Collegiality as demanded by the law is such a fundamental issue and yet it has been wantonly violated. We disagree with the view propounded by Committee Chair Sen. Legarda that this is a mere internal squabble," said Elpidio Peria of the NGO climate network Aksyon Klima Pilipinas. "This goes beyond simple coordination problems. If left unaddressed, the unilateral acts by Climate Change Commission Vice-Chair Heherson Alvarez will continue to jeopardize the government's effort to cope with impacts of climate change , " Peria added.

Aksyon Klima said in a statement that the climate finance mess is but one manifestation of serious problems of non-collegiality and leadership within the Commission.

In the hearing, Senator Enrile brandished a $15 million adaptation proposal of the WB, citing DPWH and PAGASA as collaborating agencies. When the agencies were asked by Enrile if they approached the WB with the proposal, PAGASA representative Thelma Cinco said it was the WB that had approached their office. Cinco later qualified her statement but DPWH Director Resito David narrated right after a similar experience by his agency regarding WB climate finance lobbying. According to David, "The World Bank approached us...the World Bank has been approaching agencies ."

Apart from the controversial $15 million WB proposal, DPWH also revealed a JPY1.5 billion loan for an adaptation-related infrastructure project. The Laguna Lake Development Authority also revealed an Php18 billion adaptation loan for the dredging of Laguna Lake from the Belgian government. The Laguna Lake loan drew an immediate riposte from Enrile, who questioned the seeming practice of accepting loans instead of compensation.

"Why are we borrowing for adaptation? Is this the policy of government?," Enrile asked during the hearing. The agencies, including Alvarez, were unable to answer Enrile's question.

Legarda closed the hearing by reminding the agencies and the Commission to work together. "While collaboration is critical, we remind Senator Legarda that collegiality is a prerequisite to effective coordination and leadership by the Commission. We also urge the Senate Committee to deepen its inquiry into the climate finance chaos," said Peria.

Aksyon Klima called on the Senate to ensure civil society groups monitoring the Commission and climate finance are invited to shed light on the issues arising from the hearing.

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