Press Release
March 12, 2012


To avert future disasters and boost government's capacity to promote human security, Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III is urging local government leaders to beef up their disaster preparation and mitigation plans throughout the country.

Sen. Guingona made this appeal to local government unit (LGU) leaders a year after the tsunami tragedy struck Japan which claimed more than 15,000 lives and damaged properties amounting to more than US$15 billion last year.

"Improving our strategies to prepare for disasters could save lives and minimize economic losses. Our country is prone to natural calamities and the local governments should be well-equipped in preparing and handling disasters. Filipinos must also be well-informed and empowered on how to react when facing different calamities," Sen. Guingona said.

He emphasized that our local leaders should help their respective communities to plan for, and adapt to the impacts of natural and man-made hazards.

Sen. Guingona revealed that typhoon Sendong is the second biggest disaster that hit Mindanao after the 1976 Moro Gulf tsunami.

"35 years ago, the Moro Gulf tsunami killed 8,000 lives in the coastal areas of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and the cities of Cotabato, Zamboanga and Pagadian. Only a few people can remember this event but this type of calamity is something that our local leaders and residents should prepare for," he said.

Sen. Guingona cited the report written by Fr. Victor Badillo and Zinnia C. Astilla of the Manila Observatory for the Special Committee on Tsunami Warning System, and the National Committee on Marine Sciences and the National Science Development Board in 1978.

The report noted that 95 percent of the 8,000 deaths were due to the tsunami while the rest was from the 8.2 magnitude earthquake in 1976.

Sen. Guingona recently visited Badillo, who is now 82 years old, to discuss the 1978 report.

During the meeting, Sen. Guingona and Fr. Badillo both agreed on three recommendations: LGUs should institutionalize a disaster preparation and mitigation plan, the need for LGUs to have an inundation maps, and to promote the disaster preparedness mentality among the people to better respond to calamities and other hazards in the environment.

In the 1978 report, Badillo and Astilla warned that the most susceptible areas for tsunami are the Moro Gulf, Eastern Mindanao and Western Luzon.

"Based on the projection of the committee in 1978, this type of calamity happens every 17 years. The time is now ripe and a disaster of this magnitude can happen any moment, any time. Let me also take note that in 1976, there were only a few residents in these areas, but now we have a much bigger population. So it is high time for the local leaders and residents to prepare and be ready for any types of disasters," the senator warned.

Sen. Guingona said that it is important for the LGUs to show its strong commitment in investing in the preparation for disasters and empowering their constituents on how to react and adapt to all forms of calamities.

"LGUs are in the frontline of government action during disasters. We should now invest in making our communities safe for the future of our children. Local governments should seriously invest in early warning system and inundation maps. Risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies should now the forefront in disaster preparation," Sen. Guingona said.

He added that Filipinos should develop the disaster preparedness mentality and it should be an everyday concern since the country is prone to disasters.

"As an old adage goes, 'daig ng maagap ang masipag,' it holds true to disaster preparation. Human and economic losses will be minimized if we were able to develop a disaster preparedness mentality," Sen. Guingona said.

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