Press Release
August 10, 2012

Legarda: Phl urgently needs effective and
enduring solution to flood problem

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the country urgently needs an effective and enduring solution to its flood problem, stressing that the government must immediately create a plan of action for flood prevention and mitigation and implement it right away.

Legarda, the United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, said that while the current focus of the government is on relief, recovery and rehabilitation for those affected by the massive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in Luzon, efforts on disaster prevention and mitigation should not take a back seat.

"Our mindset should not only focus on what is happening now but also, and even more important, on what will still happen in the future because as we engage in post-disaster activities, a new natural hazard might be brewing already and may strike anytime. If we do not address the vulnerabilities of our communities, we will end up always rebuilding and never moving forward," she pointed out.

The Senator noted that in the Hyogo Framework of Action, a ten-year blueprint for reducing risks to disasters worldwide, policy legislation and governance is the top priority, while readiness to respond is the lowest form of disaster risk reduction (DRR) as it is unsustainable and costly.

"While we experience the 'new norm,' tragedy and enormous losses should not be part of this norm. This is the essence of DRR, preventing natural hazards from resulting in a disaster. The challenge therefore is to build-back-better and for this recent calamity, what we need is an effective and enduring solution to the flood problem," Legarda said.

She emphasized the continuous implementation and strengthening of flood control projects such as the Department of Public Works and Highways' drainage protection works along national roads and bridges, relocation of informal settlers living along riverbanks and esteros, and drainage improvement and watershed projects in selected locations; as well as the Metro Manila Development Authority's estero clean-up drive to allow floodwater to subside easily.

"We have to always ensure that esteros, waterways, and drainages are not clogged with waste materials. Moreover, we must educate Filipinos on the importance of waste segregation and provide effective waste disposal methods because government agencies won't be able to shoulder all the responsibility," said Legarda, author of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

She added that the increase in budget for flood control and water resource management will be most helpful.

"It is imperative for the government to submit to the discipline of disaster and climate risk-sensitive development planning. The national government budget for 2013 must anticipate and can withstand the impacts and economic stress brought about by stronger typhoons, heavier rains, prolonged droughts and other extreme weather events. The forces that threaten our people and the development of our country must be met with resolute will and sustainable solutions," she stressed.

In light of the recent disaster, Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, will deliver a privilege speech on the State of Disaster and Climate Risks in the Philippines on August 13 and will conduct a public hearing on the lessons from the monsoon flooding on August 16.

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