Press Release
March 17, 2012


BACOLOD CITY -- Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Bacolod City Mayor Leonardo "Bing" Leonardia will lead guests and local government officials in the conduct today (Saturday) of the first Western Visayas Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction and Multi-Hazard Awareness at the West Negros University in Bacolod City.

Pimentel and Leonardia are co-conveners of the day-long summit that will try to adopt a common stand and action agenda by both the government and the public to properly manage and reduce natural disasters and calamities caused by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disturbances.

He said that there is a need to organize development partners to effectively manage resources, pointing out that disasters, when properly addressed, can be mitigated if not entirely prevented by the right measures in place at the localities and through a community-led initiative practiced by the people themselves.

Participants in the summit, that will be attended by well-known experts in disaster risk reductions, are expected to pass a declaration that will spell out their commitments in the unified action to reduce risks and mitigate the devastating and deadly effects of floods and earthquakes in their communities.

Western Visayas was recently hit by a killer quake which left thousands homeless and millions in properties damaged in Negros Oriental. Only several years back, super typhoon "Frank" triggered flashfloods in Iloilo City and other areas, causing untold destruction in infrastructures, crops and properties and lives lost.

Pimentel, together with Sen. Teofisto Guingona, had earlier convened a similar summit in Cagayan de Oro City where the participants adopted a Mindanao Declaration which contained a comprehensive eight-point, action plan to support local, regional and island-wide initiatives to reduce risks to disasters.

The integrated action plan on disaster risk reduction and mitigation will try to provide Mindanao government officials and concerned agencies of up-to-date scientific research on geological-hazardous areas and the impact of climate change as well as other interventions that will help reduce if not eliminate threats posed on human lives and properties by natural calamities.

Among the resource speakers invited are Dir. Rosario Cabrera of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Dr. Maria Bautista of PHILVOCS, Ma. Cecilia Monteverde of PAGASA, Maria Felizar Cagay of the Center for Disaster Preparedness, Steve Godilano of the National Housing Authority and Evelyn Trompeta of DILG, Region 6.

The participants will tackle the government's program on disaster risk reduction, the responsibilities of local government units as mandated by law to mitigate the effects of calamities, the impact and challenges on disaster risk initiatives, sharing of best practices vs. Disasters and other threats caused by climate change.

Pimentel stressed the importance of education and information campaign on disaster risks reduction to raise the level of awareness of both the public and private sectors, the organization of an emergency preparedness and response action plan and the strict enforcement of laws on the environment, natural resources and land use.

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