Press Release
March 14, 2011

Legarda: Disaster Preparedness, A Matter Of Survival

Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated her call to strengthen the country's disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation measures, stressing that it is essential to human survival.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change said it is important that the country is prepared when disasters strike to prevent or minimize the loss of lives.

She cited the examples of Japan and Bangladesh in dealing with disasters.

"There have been at least 1,500 deaths in Japan due to the recent earthquake and tsunami. But if their buildings were not structurally sound, I am certain this 1,500 could easily have been 100,000 or more," she said.

"In Bangladesh, a 1991 cyclone with winds of around 250 km/h killed over 100,000 people. They learned from that experience and established simple early warning systems in the form of red flags and local notices given by roving volunteers to warn citizens of an impending disaster. When Cyclone Sidr of the same intensity hit Bangladesh in 2007, there were approximately 3,000 deaths. It's still a big loss, but it was significantly lower than the previous one," she added.

Legarda explained that the country should establish disaster preparedness measures especially at the barangay level. This includes ensuring the soundness of critical infrastructure through evaluation and retrofitting to allow them to withstand destructive earthquakes.

"Good governance is also a major factor in disaster risk reduction. Funds intended for infrastructure such as buildings and road networks should be fully utilized for such purpose to ensure that they are made of good quality and made resilient against man made or natural disasters."

Legarda also stressed that the protection of ecosystems is essential to intensifying the country's defense against disasters.

"Restoring our coastal mangrove forests and continuous tree-planting activities are simple yet effective defenses against several types of hazards. While trees serve as buffers from heavy rains, mangroves serve as shield from storm surges and rising sea levels," she explained.

As she encouraged the establishment of these preparedness measures, Legarda said she appreciates the growing interest of local government units on disaster risk reduction.

Early this year, mayors of Metro Manila including the Alliance of Seven Mayors, and more than 50 local executives in Cebu and Region VII committed to the United Nation's Making Cities Resilient campaign.

Legarda also encouraged local legislators who participated at the recent Philippine Councilors League National Congress to translate national laws on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation to local ordinances attuned to their locality's vulnerabilities.

"I laud the leaders of the cities and municipalities in the various provinces who signed up for the UN campaign. I am happy with our local leaders' and citizens' growing awareness on the issue of climate change. This is what we need--to put together our political will and actions for a country that is prepared to ward off the ill effects of natural hazards," Legarda concluded.

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