Florencio P. Narito
LEGAZPI CITY — Senator Loren Legarda has pledged to allocate P5 million from her Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) to Albay for a "climate change" research and livelihood project to be conducted by the Bicol University (BU) here.
The senator made the pledge to Gov. Joey S. Salceda during a forum on "Climate Change Adaptation" and other environmental issues held last Jan. 11 in the People’s Hall of Albay capitol.
Asked during a press conference following the round-table discussion if she has plans to run for President in the 2010 polls, Legarda replied: "I’m ready to serve the people, but in the next 24 months before 2010, I’ll first serve the people (as a senator) before I decide whether to run for President or not."
She said she has been going around the country to know the problems of the people, such as lack of food and livelihood and the problems posed by climate change.
When asked what she could do about the pollution allegedly caused by the operations of Lafayette Mining Corp. in the town of Rapu-Rapu, Albay, she replied that she would file a resolution in the Senate calling for an on-site investigation of the alleged fish kill that reportedly victimized the fisherflok.
"If Lafayette (the Australian mining firm) has really violated the terms of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC), then it should be cancelled," she said.
At the same time, she reported that she has authored a bill creating a National Commission on Climate Change which would replace the two task forces created by executive orders.
"I intend to go nationwide and tell the people on what the Province of Albay under Governor Salceda has done and what the BU has been doing to address the problems of climate change," she said.
When the problem of rampant cutting of coconut trees cropped up, Salceda said that the sangguniang panlalawigan had already passed two resolutions against the wanton cutting of young coconut trees for coco-lumber.
"I think it is in the best interests of the coconut farmers and the Albayanos in general to ask the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to implement a moratorium on the issuance of cutting permits," Salceda said.
Among the anti-mining advocates who urged the stoppage of the mining operations of Lafayette were Legazpi Bishop Lucilo Quiambao, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, Engineer Virgilio Perdigon Jr. of the Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance, and Dr. Emelina Regis of Ateneo de Naga University.
Other speakers at the forum included lawyer-environmentalist Antonio O(p)oso and Babette Resureccion of Asian Institute of Technology.