Press Release
November 25, 2010

Senate President Enrile lauds PNoy move
to resolve Climate Commission imbroglio

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile expressed his support for President Noynoy Aquino's move to replace the Climate Change Commission's Vice Chair and decisively resolve the governance crisis that has plagued the country's lead government agency tasked to address the climate change crisis.

Aquino administered the oath of office today to Atty. Mary Ann Lucille Sering as the Commission's new Vice Chairperson, replacing former Senator Heherson T. Alvarez who previously held the post. "Aquino's rapid response speaks well of his administration's leadership and the President's determination to effectively confront the climate crisis," Enrile said.

"President Aquino acted swiftly in choosing a new Vice Chair of the Climate Change Commission. We believe he made a good choice in appointing Commissioner Lucille Sering as his deputy in the Commission, but I do hope she hits the ground running. There is a lot of catching up to do," said Enrile.

The Senate President commented that "Commissioner Sering needs to focus on restoring the Commission's credibility among the national agencies and the international diplomatic community. The Philippines is highly vulnerable to climate change and impoverished Filipino communities deserve competent leaders in the government."

"The United Nations negotiations in Cancun, Mexico on the global climate treaty is just a few days away. I urge Atty. Sering to ensure that climate finance issues are followed closely. We hope she will exercise effective leadership over the Philippine delegation during this already politically difficult UN conference," Enrile said.

Commissioners Alvarez, Sering, and Naderev Saño were appointed to the Climate Change Commission by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Signed into law in late 2009, Republic Act 9729 established the Climate Change Commission, headed by the President who sits as the Chairperson of the body, and composed of three Commissioners, one of whom is appointed by the President as the Vice Chair, with the salary rank of a cabinet secretary. The other Commissioners hold the pay grade equivalent to a line agency undersecretary.

Under the law, the Commissioners enjoy a six-year term unless removed by cause. The tenure of the Commission's Vice Chair, however, is subject to the appointment of the President. Civil society groups have demanded that President Aquino step in to solve the collegiality issue in the Commission which has dragged on since the creation of the body. NGOs have asked the Aquino administration to exercise a free hand in choosing a new Commission Vice Chair.

Alvarez came under fire for making highly contentious decisions and actions, without consulting the other Commissioners or other concerned national agencies. The most recent controversy he was involved in was his endorsement of Korea as the host of the UN climate conference in 2012, contradicting an earlier position taken by the Department of Foreign Affairs which supported the hosting bid of Qatar. Moreover, Alvarez recently designated the Land Bank of the Philippines as the Philippine entity that will access the UN Adaptation Fund, a move only the Commission's Chairperson - the Philippine President - is authorized to undertake. Alvarez also submitted to the UN climate body his unilateral endorsement of the Copenhagen Accord, which, due to its flaws, was not adopted at the UN climate plenary in Denmark and which was later rescinded by the DFA.

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