Legarda Asks DFA to Fasttrack Ratification of Treaties on Asian Infra Investment Bank and Climate ChangeOctober 7, 2016
Senator Loren Legarda has called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to oversee the immediate ratification of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Treaty and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change during the Senate hearing on the agency’s proposed budget for 2017.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Climate Change, said that while the Philippines is a founding member of the AIIB, a China-led international financial institution for the Asia-Pacific region, it has yet to formalize its membership pending ratification of the Treaty.
“It will be good for our country and for our diplomatic relations with China if we are able to ratify the AIIB Treaty before the President’s visit to China this month. As a member of the AIIB, we will be able to access funds for vital infrastructure projects. It will also be good for the President and his delegation to go to China bearing positive news that the administration has worked on the approval of our AIIB membership,” said Legarda.
The Senator also said that the Treaty must be ratified within the year since the Four Billion Pesos initial contribution of the Philippines to the AIIB has been included in the proposed 2017 budget of the Department of Finance.
“We have already earmarked the funds for our contribution to the AIIB, but if the Treaty is not ratified soon, we will have to delete it from the budget,” she said.
In relation to this, Legarda also requested the DFA to instruct all its embassies and consulates to gather information about all available sources of funding and technical assistance from governments and private organizations that the Philippine government can access.
“Our government should know all available sources of funding that it can access from different countries and private organizations to augment our funding requirements for various government programs for energy, infrastructure, micro enterprises, climate and disaster resilience, among others,” said Legarda.
The Senator also asked the DFA to prioritize ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which will enter into force on November 4, 2016.
“We have nothing to lose, but everything to gain with the Paris Agreement. It will soon enter into force but we will not be able to avail of the Green Climate Fund unless we ratify the Agreement,” she explained.
Under the Paris Agreement, developed nations are asked to decarbonize economy-wide. They must raise $100 Billion every year to help vulnerable developing nations for mitigation and adaptation, and to transfer technology.
“I hope we can ratify the Paris Agreement before the climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco in November so that we will send a good signal to the international community that we are one with the world in the goal of having a sustainable and resilient planet. Aside from that, the Paris Agreement is very important for the Philippines, being one of the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change,” said Legarda.
Meanwhile, as part of the DFA’s mandate to protect the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas, Legarda asked the Department not only to ensure adequate funding for legal and welfare assistance for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) but also to see to it that OFWs are informed that the government provides such forms of assistance to them through Philippine embassies and consulates worldwide.
The Senator also urged the DFA to give equal importance to the fourth pillar of foreign policy, which is cultural diplomacy.
“I want to see a robust cultural diplomacy unit of the DFA and more cultural diplomacy activities between the Philippines and other nations. We have started to put the Philippines back to the global art scene through our return to the Venice Biennale. We need more of these cultural engagements with the international community so that we can promote the country’s diplomatic agenda through cultural diplomacy,” Legarda concluded.