(STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo has named herself chair of the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change (PTCC), which she reorganized to make it more effective in implementing measures to mitigate the effects of global warming in the country.

Mrs. Arroyo issued Executive Order 774, dated Dec. 26, 2008 but announced at Malacañang only on Wednesday. Last week, she named herself the anti-narcotics czar to curb drug abuse and trafficking in the country.

In her EO, she said climate change will have “catastrophic effects if immediate and sufficient action to curb industrial emissions and forest loss is not taken.”

“While our country’s emissions remain much lower in per capita terms than those of industrialized nations, our country’s recent growth and development have been accompanied by a rise in damaging emissions from fossil fuels,” the President said.

“We should try to help push the mind-set from the present traditional paradigms of economics to the new mindset of conservatism, protection and restoration,” she said.

She directed all Cabinet officials to be members of the PTCC and their respective offices should be examples of protecting the environment, starting with proper solid waste management, “the most basic form of environment responsibility.”

Mrs. Arroyo said her staff would clear her schedule on Fridays and devote five hours to concerns and initiatives on environmental security.

She formed 14 task groups, including the Task Group on Solid Waste Management that would implement various measures, such as the reduction of solid waste generation by 50 percent in the next six months.

The Task Group on Watershed Protection will, among others, immediately identify and protect water resources and watersheds, and tap the academic and scientific community to conduct an inventory of the country’s flora and fauna.

The Task Group on Rainwater Conservation will be in charge of putting up rainwater collection systems.

The Task Group on Water Recycling will work on the effective use, recovery and reuse of water.

The Task Group on Atmospheric Activities will be in charge of, among other things, improving the facilities of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration.

The Task Group on Outdoor and Rooftop Structures would ensure that all billboards and outdoor advertisements be shut off by 9 p.m.

The Task Group on Information would be in charge of raising awareness on the threats the country is facing with regards to climate change.

The Task Group on Foreign Affairs will seek cooperation with other island-nations in exploring legal and meta-legal approaches on how to hold high carbon dioxide-emitting countries accountable for climate change.

Greenpeace Statement on Executive Order 774 BY Lea Guerrero Media Campaigner Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines)

'Executive Order 774 ridiculous and confused'

Manila, 23 January 2009--Yesterday, Malacanang announced that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has issued Executive Order 774 which reorganizes the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change which she now heads.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Climate and Energy Campaigner Amalie Obusan said:

"Although the intent of the Executive Order 774 to step up environmental protection may seem sincere and creditable, the Executive Order is itself ridiculous and confused. Greenpeace believes that this casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of such a body and calls on the President to instead implement real and tangible climate change solutions.

"The reorganized Task Force, now headed by the President, basically mandates all government agencies and local governments to comply with laws and responsibilities that the said agencies should already be doing in the first place:

-it tasks all government agencies to follow the Solid Waste Act, which by law should actually be already be implemented; -it tasks the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to survey, map and protect watershed areas, which is already one of the responsibilities of the DENR; -it mandates that waterways and riverbanks should be cleared of obstructions?already directed under the Clean Water Act; -it orders a compliance audit of the Fisheries Code?a task that is already the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture; and -it directs a Task Group on Renewable Energy for the Energy Department to lead the swift implementation the Renewable Energy Law--precisely already the duty of the DOE.

"Additionally, EO 774 attempts to make the PTFCC a body that comprehensively addresses as many climate mitigation and adaptation strategies as possible--including it seems, strategies on promoting traditional medicine. While commendable on its own, clauses such as this and the above in the EO betray the government's lack of seriousness on getting down to business on the real causes of climate change.

"Climate change is the greatest environmental threat the world faces today, any Climate Change Task Force should focus on wide-reaching and lasting solutions, beginning with phasing out coal and nuclear plants, and initiating a massive shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

"The President is already head of the government. To appoint herself as chair of a body which mandates government agencies to fulfill what are already their responsibilities--and to put aside budget for that purpose--is absurd. If, in mandating this reorganization, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to fashion herself as a 'climate change czar,' she could do a lot more by personally ensuring the effective implementation of the RE Law and guaranteeing that dirty coal and nuclear energy will not override the mainstreaming of clean, renewable energy sources in the country."

For more information: Amalie Obusan, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Climate and Energy Campaigner, +63 917 823 9248, Lea Guerrero, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Media Campaigner, +63 920 950 6877,

NOTE: Full text of EO 774 available upon request. -- Lea Guerrero Media Campaigner Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines)

Tel.: +63 2 332 1806 Fax: +63 2 332 1807 Mobile: +63 920 950 6877

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