Press Release
September 23, 2012

Legarda Partners with European Union Delegation for Disaster Risk Reduction Conference in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte

Senator Loren Legarda today announced the National Conference for Effective Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Practices to be held on September 28-29 in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte, the site of the Guinsaugon landslide of 2006.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, is organizing the conference in partnership with Ambassador Guy Ledoux of the European Union delegation, Mayor Rico Rentuza of St. Bernard, CARE Nederland, German Development Cooperation, and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Green Development.

"Six years ago, we witnessed one of the world's deadliest landslides where 1,221 people, including 246 elementary schoolchildren, died. The landslide, which occurred after ten days of heavy rains and a 2.6 magnitude earthquake, is forever etched into the memories of Leytenos," she remarked.

"However, we want to showcase St. Bernard not as a site of tragedy but as a site of hope, recovery, and lessons to be learned," she added, noting that the conference will focus on steps for disaster prevention, such as early warning systems for landslides.

Support from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) through its disaster preparedness program, DIPECHO, facilitated the implementation of a continuing capability-building program since 2007. Under this facility, the municipal and barangay LGUs were able to maximize regular programs and projects for disaster risk reduction purposes. A comprehensive development plan was drawn up with strong consideration of risks.

Legarda stressed that the recently approved Amended Climate Change Act, which she sponsored and which creates the People's Survival Fund, will go a long way in supporting climate change adaptation activities in the local level through the funding of programs such as the establishment of forecasting and early warning systems, and strengthening institutional development for local governments for preventive measures, planning, preparedness and management of impacts relating to climate change.

The Senator, who is also the United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, earlier led DRR collaboration workshops for local government units covering the Pampanga, Bicol, and Cagayan de Oro River Basins.

"We have to make our communities safer, more resilient, and more prepared to respond whenever a disaster strikes. St. Bernard should serve as an inspiration, and through this national conference, we hope to further our understanding of the unique risks and cooperate towards implementing our best solutions," Legarda concluded.

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