Press Release
August 7, 2012

Legarda: Make our laws work to avert disasters
Gov't and citizens must engage in heightened flood prevention, disaster preparedness measures

Senator Loren Legarda today expressed grave concern over the condition of various communities affected by the present weather disturbance that has caused massive flooding in many parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces, and called on the government to make the nation's laws work to avert disasters.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and author of several environmental laws, stressed that both the government and the citizenry should engage in heightened flood prevention measures and other disaster preparedness efforts.

"Despite experiences of the past, flooding persists. Now we ask, was there declogging of esteros? Was garbage in open dumps collected? Were roads that needed repair done? Is flood control implemented? Are there updated flood warning protocols for dam water releases? With flooding comes sickness, loss of livelihood and chaos. Laws and policies are in place but when will the executive start implementing our laws and when will people follow laws enacted?" the Senator remarked.

Legarda said that laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), Clean Water Act (RA 9275), Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729), and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121), if fully implemented, are enough to avert the disasters that have been plaguing many parts of the country every time a natural hazard strikes.

She added that with the present condition of communities in Metro Manila, the government should urgently undertake an NCR-wide clean up of drainage, waterways, and riverbanks; engage in more tree-growing activities; craft and implement comprehensive flood prevention and mitigation program in NCR; and create a program to address the problem of ground subsidence.

"No to open dumps. We must clean esteros and canals, segregate garbage, plant trees on vacant lots and roadsides, relocate urban settlers living in vulnerable areas, do rainwater catchment basins so that water is stored during rains and used during dry season," Legarda said.

The Senator also stressed that agencies of government, particularly the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and all local government units (LGUs) should coordinate closely with one another for disaster prevention, effective disaster risk communication, and disaster response.

"Government must make the National Climate Change Action Plan and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan work. Adopted more than a year ago, they should serve as blueprints in mainstreaming climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the government's plans and programs, from the national down to the local level, not just in paper but in practice," she explained.

"We now experience the 'new norm' and disaster response preparedness, such as warning and alert for evacuation, rescue and relief, can never be enough in this era of weather uncertainty brought by climate change," Legarda concluded.

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