Press Release
October 1, 2018

Koko: Step Up Disaster Preparedness

"Let's assess our readiness to respond and to provide needed disaster relief and assistance in times of natural calamities. Our education drives and simulation drills should be sustained and continuous. An alert and informed citizenry is best equipped to deal with emergencies."

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III made the remark as the Philippine government sent its condolences to the Indonesian government in the aftermath of a 7.4 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that caused the death of at least 800 people. The death toll continues to rise as more responders reach affected areas.

Meanwhile, a "severe" tropical storm, codenamed "Kong-Rey" was reported to be entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) in the coming days.

This comes as Typhoon "Ompong" lashed out at Northern Luzon two weeks ago, destroying crops and livestock estimated at P26.7 billion according to the Department of Agriculture. Human casualties reached close to 70.

"We cannot prevent natural calamities from happening, but we can prepare well, especially considering we belong to the same earthquake and volcanic zone. Typhoon-wise, we're actually more prone to be hit by storms compared to our ASEAN neighbors."

Pimentel called on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to hold more nationwide drills, apart from the quarterly exercises, to better prepare citizens.

"NDRRMC's closer coordination with the Department of National Defense's Office of Civil Defense as well as the DILG and DepEd is direly needed. Schools at all levels should be a particular focus for earthquake drills because of the large concentration of young citizens in school zones," the lawmaker emphasized.

The Mindanao senator discussed the idea of possibly creating a separate 'Department of Disaster Preparedness and Resiliency" to address year-long disaster management concerns.

"The name of course can be modified, but the important aspect here is preparedness at the highest executive level. We need a full-time and dedicated bureaucracy for disaster management."

Pimentel likewise said he was studying the economic viability of earthquake, typhoon and similar insurance coverage, focusing on aspects of affordability and how Filipino households can be conditioned to consider insurance coverage as necessary expenses.

"We still have a long way to go in terms of maturity and openness to spending on insurance, especially since it's an added cost that competes with more basic living expenses. Eventually, however, we must deal with this issue of coverage because our country experiences damaging weather and natural disturbances quite regularly. Insurance is in itself a form of preparedness," the senator stressed.

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