Carlos G. Dominguez
Secretary of Finance
Fellow workers in government and friends in the media:
I am honored to introduce to you today the new members of the reconstituted National Panel of Technical Experts of the Climate Change Commission.
This is more than merely a change of personnel. It reflects a change of paradigm in our efforts to combat the effects of climate change.
We are no longer in the business of building a grand theory about climate change. Science has accumulated enough evidence about what is happening and what all of humanity needs to do to reverse the apocalyptic course of planetary warming.
We are now in the business of implementing concrete projects and programs to build the resilience of our communities, reverse the degradation, and protect our vital food sources. What is global must now be addressed at the local level. What was theoretical now demands practical applications on the ground.
I am proud of the talent we have attracted to join the National Panel of Technical Experts. The sixteen members of the panel were drawn from 130 notable experts we interviewed. They represent the various regions of the country and were selected because they are doing practical work on the ground, and are thus, aware of what is going on at the grassroots level.
The Philippines, as you know, pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent over the next decade. This is a bold and ambitious commitment. It underscores both our determination to shape a greener future for our people as well as the real risks we confront as one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of global warming.
We will achieve that commitment. To do so, we need to implement achievable programs on the ground. We need to convince our people that climate change is reversible if we all act together and begin reducing our own carbon footprint.
For us, the fight to save the planet begins today. No red light can stop us from moving towards a greener future. We have brought together brilliant minds to ensure that our race towards our planet’s survival will be coherent, concerted, and compelling.
In alphabetical order, allow me to introduce the sixteen members of the National Panel of Technical Experts whom I personally interviewed to get to know them and their contributions to our fight against climate change.
Dr. Jihan H. Adil is an environmental planning and engineering expert from Zamboanga City. She has extensive experience coordinating the efforts of local government units in developing comprehensive land use plans. Dr. Adil has committed to educating local governments, especially those from the Mindanao Region, about climate change starting from the barangay level.
Dr. Nathaniel R. Alibuyog is an agricultural engineer specializing in land and water management. He is currently the Dean of the College of Engineering of Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte. He will help us in maximizing the management of our land and water resources for sustainable use.
We also have Dr. Zenaida L. Andrade, a chemical engineer from Tacloban City. She is both an educator and a specialist in the fields of chemical engineering, pollution control, and waste management. With her background, she can explore how wastewater can be part of a circular economy.
Dr. Wilfredo L. Campos is an expert in biological oceanography, coastal ecology and ecosystems, coral reef ecology, and fisheries. He is from Iloilo. He advocates for the better management of our fishery resources to address the impact of rising ocean temperatures on our dwindling fish supply.
Dr. Gay D. Defiesta specializes in agricultural economics and environmental accounting. She is from Iloilo and served as Vice-Chancellor for academic affairs at the University of the Philippines Visayas. She advocates stronger partnerships between communities and the academe in implementing climate change initiatives. We both agree that the action should be on the ground if our country is to make significant strides in reversing the devastating effects of climate change.
Dr. Ramon Lorenzo Luis R. Guinto is an expert in climate change and public health. He hails from Laguna. He received his medical training at the Philippine General Hospital, where he witnessed health and social problems converge. That made him decide to pursue a career in public health and adopt society and the planet as his patients. He is now training future doctors at the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine so they will become competent in caring not just for people but also the environment. He is determined to devise ways of engaging the local governments in our efforts to address the long-term effects of climate change on public health.
Dr. Eduardo O. Mangaoang is an expert in upland, lowland, and coastal forest landscape restoration and conservation. He is from Leyte. Among his ongoing engagements is the modeling of communities in Eastern Samar for preparedness, response, and recovery activities against climate-induced disasters. He aims to replicate his program to neighboring provinces to achieve greater climate resilience in the Visayas region. Dr. Mangaoang wants climate change-vulnerable communities to make climate action an integral part of their culture and way of life.
Dr. Jimmy T. Masagca is an expert in fisheries and mangroves. He has done studies on how fisheries and mangrove resource management can aid in disaster risk reduction in the typhoon-prone island of Catanduanes. He has immersed himself in coastal communities vulnerable to climate change to explain to people why they need to be concerned about rising sea levels and ocean warming.
Dr. Susan P. Mercado is a public health and food security expert with extensive experience at the international, national, and local levels. She was former Undersecretary of the Department of Health and is currently Director of the Food Systems and Resiliency Program at the Hawaii Public Health Institute. I share her concern about how the widespread changes in weather patterns could impact public health and spawn more diseases.
Dr. Richard N. Muallil is a marine scientist and a recognized expert in coastal resource management and marine protected areas. He is from Tawi Tawi and has been studying production and post-harvest systems, and the processing of seaweeds. He was recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines for Marine Science and Conservation for his work in educating dynamite fishers about the need to preserve the reefs and converting them into reef defenders. We will count on Dr. Muallil to find ways of mitigating the effects of increasing ocean acidity and rising sea levels on our marine resources.
Dr. Emma E. Porio is a specialist in climate and disaster resilience from Quezon City. She is very determined to connect policies with actual applications. She has underscored the need to translate scientific concepts into language that people will understand to achieve our goal of a whole-of-society approach in fighting climate change.
Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez is also a specialist in disaster risk management and water resource assessment. She is from Iloilo and has been working on the hydrological modeling and simulation of floods and droughts. She will help us in optimizing the use of our water resources.
Engineer Merriam M. Santillan is a graduate Geodetic Engineer and she is the Dean of the College of Engineering and Geosciences of Caraga State University in Butuan City. She has been involved in numerous flood hazard mapping projects in Mindanao using remote sensing technologies. With her competitive spirit, she is determined to not just contribute to our climate initiatives through her expertise but also to produce top-notch geodetic engineers in the country.
Dr. Encarnacion Emilia S. Yap is a Post-Harvest Fisheries Specialist and Fisheries Professional. She serves as Dean of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in the University of the Philippines Visayas. She is focused on food quality and safety in our fisheries sector. Dr. Yap has been educating fishermen about the adverse effects of climate change on their means of livelihood and has been helping them implement climate mitigation measures. Moreover, she has instituted in her college what we plan to do nationwide–a ban on single-use plastics. I thank her for setting an example among her students.
Dr. Maria Angela G. Zafra is from Davao City. She is an expert in inclusive business models, sustainable tourism, and gender inclusivity. She advocates getting businesses involved in the sustainable practices and climate finance. I agree with her view that the challenge to address climate change does not solely rely on the government, but the private sector must play a large role in mobilizing financial resources to achieve our Nationally Determined Contribution.
Last but not least is Dr. Doracie B. Zoleta-Nantes who is a specialist in geography, hazards studies, and extreme weather events. She is from Lucban, Quezon. I share her view that we need to involve the local governments and explain to people the issue of climate change and how it will affect them in a language that they will understand.
I am proud to say that we have brought together a high-caliber team of Filipino experts representing the broadest range of disciplines and backgrounds. More than that, they also represent all corners of the archipelago.
These are experts who are familiar with working on the ground, with businesses and local governments. Trained in science, they also excel in building partnerships and linkages. These are Filipino experts who will engage local communities in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
I am confident that we have the panel that will give us the practical advice the Climate Change Commission urgently needs. We are ready to get to work. We have no time to lose. We have a planet to save.