Press Release
January 30, 2012

Legarda on Post-Sendong Efforts: Rebuild a Better Mindanao

As the government and other concerned sectors unite to help victims of Tropical Storm Sendong recover from the tragedy, Senator Loren Legarda today stressed that rehabilitation efforts should be focused on building back a better Mindanao.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, explained that it will not be enough to build people's lives and communities to where they were before the disaster.

"We need to rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again; we need to ensure that reconstruction of homes and infrastructure will be in safer ground following sound construction standards; we need to soon restart and create livelihoods; and restore normalcy in people's lives with a stronger sense of hope and confidence for the future," the Senator said in her privilege speech, commenting on the post-Sendong assessment of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, who visited the cities of Cagayan De Oro and Iligan last week.

Legarda said that 1,268 lives were lost while 441,022 lives remain affected by Sendong. She also cited a report from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimating that of the Php59.23-Billion total direct and indirect losses caused by typhoons, floods and landslides in 2011, Php17.48-Billion was inflicted by Sendong.

She pointed out that while addressing infrastructure needs, equal attention must also be given to the social needs of affected communities, including for alternative employment and livelihood opportunities, and the resumption of classes in schools.

In building back a better Mindanao, the Senator also said that early warning systems must be enhanced to facilitate swift and early actions. Likewise, local institutions must be empowered by building the capacity of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils, not just in preparedness but also in disaster mitigation activities.

Furthermore, Legarda explained that while Mindanao is in the stage of rehabilitation, disaster-resilient measures must already be put in place in other parts of the country, especially in areas where the disasters are yet to come.

"While we rebuild the lives of our people in disaster-stricken areas of Mindanao, it may be good to reflect that a similar disaster is likely waiting to happen in hundreds of other places in our country, maybe known already to us. The best choice we have is to make our nation disaster-resilient to free us, once and for all, from the exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities every single time nature unleashes its wrath," she stressed.

"Reducing risk is an investment that pays back handsomely. Let us not wait for the next calamity. As we rebuild back a better Mindanao, let us also start to proactively build a better Philippines," Legarda concluded.

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