The Climate Change Act of 2009, which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed into law, puts local government units into the center stage of governance, given the important roles city, town, and barangay leaders play in the implementation of whatever plans and programs on climate change adaptation and mitigation measures that will be crafted by a body tasked under the new law.
The substance and efficacy of Republic Act (RA) 9729 will only be as good as those executing climate change measures. The new law may even be a potent tool in bringing about a stronger green-minded electorate because of the centrality to local elected officials in mainstreaming the climate change agenda into their platforms of governance at the provincial and down to the barangay level.
While Section 13 of RA 9729 calls for the formulation of the “National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP),”Section 14, on the other hand, mandates local government units to be “the frontline agencies in the formulation, planning and implementation of climate change action plans in their respective areas” in accordance with the NCCAP and the provisions of the Local Government Code.
The declaration of principles and codes of practice enshrined in RA 9729 set the tone and conduct of how all local government officials will be held accountable to their constituencies morally and politically, if not legally.
The new law has, in effect, brought the matter of climate change to a personal and moral level given the fact that it recognizes the concept of climate justice in a manner that the Supreme Court’s continuing mandamus to rehabilitate the Manila Bay recognizes the concept of intergenerational responsibility as of paramount importance to the life of our nation as a people.
Viewing the climate change problem as a personal and moral problem brings all sectors into the domain of dialogue, discussion and participation regardless of political, ethnic, economic or religious affiliation. In one single presidential act, President Arroyo has made all the boundaries that separate these lines porous.
Rather than being seen as management problems that the government or experts can solve for us, when seen as a personal problem, they become problems for all of us to address, both as political actors and moral agents.