Press Release
February 26, 2016


TACLOBAN CITY--With the Philippines among the world's most vulnerable to natural disasters and extreme weather events, presidential race frontrunner Sen. Grace Poe called on the country's next set of lawmakers to immediately ratify the climate agreement approved in Paris last year.

This early, Poe is making a pitch for the landmark universal climate deal, which was signed by all 196 participants to the 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) to address climate change. To take effect globally, at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must ratify the agreement.

The Philippines, which chaired the Climate Vulnerable Forum in Paris during the COP21, was among the signatories.

"Dapat pirmahan na rin natin itong kasunduan sa Paris kung saan magkakaroon ng hindi lamang training para sa survival kundi meron na rin plans dito sa mga lugar kung saan madalas nagkakaroon ng mga natural calamities," Poe said at a press conference in Tacloban, Leyte, one of the areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

The Paris agreement, when ratified, requires each signatory nation to submit its own plan to reduce its GHG emissions and report regularly and transparently on its efforts.

For the Philippines, the priority is not only to address climate change but to minimize its impact on the country's population and industries. If government officials had enough political will, casualties and damages will be greatly reduced, Poe said.

"Kahit gaano ka pa naghahanda, tuwing na lang may dumarating na bagyo kailangan silang ilikas na naman mula sa lugar na iyon. Kailangang ipairal na natin yung hazard mapping at magkaroon ng political will ang national at local government para tulungan ang ating mga kababayan," she said.

The senator said it was important for local officials to have an understanding of what they are up against so they can prepare accordingly. She cited as an example the leaders of San Francisco town in Camotes Island in Cebu, which was also badly hit by Yolanda but reported no casualties.

"Ang importante kasi yung kanilang mismong mayor ay naghanda at naiintindihan ang ibig sabihin ng storm surge. Lahat sila inilikas na pero bago pa magawa 'yun, ang ginawa ng mayor ay nag-ikot doon sa town, tinignan ang mga istruktura na matibay at nilagyan na ng marka o titulo ang lupa," Poe said.

She proposed that local government units (LGUs) identify or build a safe evacuation center in their communities where residents can take refuge during calamities. She said LGUs can also put codes or markers on roofs so that aerial surveys could easily identify priority areas for assistance.

More than 7,000 people died when Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons in the planet's history, made landfall in the Philippines in November 2013. Reconstruction and rehabilitation continue to this day.

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