Press Release
June 14, 2015


As the country again braces for the rainy season, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago called on her colleagues to swiftly pass her bills aimed at boosting the government's typhoon preparations and disaster risk reduction efforts. Santiago, a laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service, said that at least five of the typhoon-related laws she proposed are still pending at the committee level, even as the Senate approved the bill she co-authored on youth involvement in disaster preparations.

"The Philippines is on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the most tropical cyclone-prone waters on Earth, making the country very susceptible to typhoons. We cannot afford further tragic loss of lives or damage to property caused by floods," Santiago said.

Santiago in January filed Senate Bill No. 2561, or the National Flood Insurance bill, that aims to augment state-funded disaster assistance and better meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to residential and other buildings and their contents.

If enacted, the bill would create a National Flood Insurance Program, enabling people living in flood-prone areas to purchase insurance against loss resulting from physical damage to or loss of real or personal property caused by any flood.

The senator meanwhile lamented that three of her bills have been languishing at the committee since 2013. These are S.B. No. 394, or the Flood Recovery Fund bill; S.B. No. 1576, or the National Flood and Research Education bill; and S.B. No. 1724, or the Culvert Safety bill.

Santiago said inaction on the Flood Recovery Fund bill, filed in July 2013, is depriving flood victims, especially those who are poor, of speedy financial assistance in the form of no-interest loans from the fund the proposed law will create.

The National Flood and Research Education bill, filed in September 2013, is meanwhile aimed at creating an Office of Flood Research and Policy that will develop best practices for predicting, preventing, and minimizing flooding and its effects.

Also pending since September 2013 is the senator's Culvert Safety bill, which seeks to ensure that culverts (imburnals or open sewers) are appropriately covered and posted with warning signs to prevent people, especially children, from falling into them during floods.

In September 2014, Santiago filed S.B. No. 2376, aimed at mandating the Department of Education to include basic swimming in elementary and secondary school curriculums. "This bill aims to prepare children against floods," said Santiago, a high school swimming champion.

She cited a United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) study, which reported that drowning is the second leading cause of death among Filipino children aged 14 years and below, and the fourth leading cause of death from injury in the Philippines.

While asking the public to support her flood-related bills in order to spur action from Senate committees, Santiago welcomed the approval on third and final reading of S.B. No. 2789 or the Youth Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management bill.

The senator co-authored the measure, which will amend the law governing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to include youth organizations. She meanwhile urged the House of Representatives to soon pass a counterpart measure. Santiago remains on medical leave due to lung cancer, stage four, but continues to perform her duties as senator on a priority basis. As of 14 May 2015, the senator has filed a total of 1,249 bills and resolutions since the 16th Congress started in June 2013.

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