Press Release
April 11, 2011

Legarda: Gov't Needs to Prepare, Protect People from Nuclear Fallout

Senator Loren Legarda today urged the government to prepare people and closely monitor public health impacts of Japan's nuclear fallout even as government downplayed the possibility of radiation exposure in the Philippines.

Legarda said it is always better to be prepared for such an incident however remote it may be than be caught off-guard when it actually happens.

"We cannot afford to be complacent notwithstanding the assurances issued by experts. There are food safety issues and the situation in Fukushima remains to be a serious concern. These are facts that we cannot dismiss. As such, our government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) need to exercise vigilance in preparing and providing for all possible contingencies," the Senator said.

According to PNRI, harmful levels of radiation from Japan will not reach the Philippines; but a study by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research revealed that there is a possibility that radiation will reach the country if the Japan power plant melts down.

The NDRRMC assured that it has in place the National Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan which the government will execute in the event that the radiation leak from Japan reaches the Philippines.

"Let us start with informing the public on what this Plan entails. A good plan is not enough. Effective execution and the ability of the public to respond accordingly are key to saving lives in times of disaster," Legarda said. "Unfortunately, we have yet to know and understand what the government's preparedness plan entails," she added.

Legarda stressed that the government must also ensure that the public is educated about radiation and its possible health implications, which, in large doses, can cause cancer and, birth defects and miscarriage for pregnant women.

"The government cannot afford to let its guard down. The PNRI should continue to monitor radiation levels and establish trends in order that it would be in a position to inform the public well before the concentrations reach dangerous levels.

She added that imported products from Japan must be closely monitored, noting that the Philippines currently has 24 registered importers of 238 Japanese products.

"This is not an overreaction. In the parlance of disaster risk reduction and management, this is preparedness. Preparation is key to effective disaster prevention," Legarda stressed. Sen. Legarda is Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change.

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