Press Release
August 6, 2020

Timeout to boost health system key to bracing for another calamity - typhoons

Moves to boost the nation's health defenses during the "timeout" are needed not only to stop the pandemic from reaching its tipping point, "but also to get the country ready for another calamity - typhoons."

"Kung ang COVID-19 ay isang unos, may mga bagyo pang parating," Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

"That we will be fighting simultaneously at two disaster fronts is a certainty. We can pray for good weather, but let us prepare for a bad typhoon season," Recto said.

"It adds urgency to the mission. Let us use this two-week good weather window to, as they say, batten down the hatches," Recto said.

"So when we scramble to scale up health facilities and social protection, it is not only for this deadly virus, but also for the typhoons that can claim many lives," Recto said.

"Kaya importante ang checklist of targets for the next two weeks, or up to the end of the month. Ano ba ang countable deliverables? Gaano kalaki ang dapat itaas sa bilang ng testing? Para alam natin ang before and after. Pag klaro yan, a united people will work so that these can be attained," Recto said.

But as it is, hospitals are full, evacuation centers are filled with the stranded, and schools are being used for quarantine, Recto said.

"They have no room for another class of disaster victims, unless we bend the curve and reduce the space occupied and resources used by COVID 19 victims," Recto said.

He said the country's resources have been stretched so thin that it will have a hard time coping with one disaster on top of another.

There is also the danger that powerful typhoons "will become some sort of a virus superspreader if victims will be crammed in evacuation centers, where physical distancing is impossible," Recto said.

He said the country's food stock, especially rice, should be kept stable and resilient "because in our vulnerable state, we cannot be one strong typhoon away from hunger."

Recto said DSWD should continue its prepositioning of relief goods so these can be rapidly deployed in typhoon-hit areas, "in addition to giving them now to families whose breadwinners have lost the income to buy food."

The Philippines is in the Top 5 of countries most prone to disasters, Recto said.

"At least 20 typhoons hit us each year, some brushing the fringes of our archipelago, others hitting our cities like a bull's eye. Aside from being the tollgate to a typhoon passageway, we are perched atop the Ring of Fire. Example is Taal Volcano," Recto said.

From 2004 to 2014, this parade of typhoons left 14,150 dead, 46,691 injured and 4,169 missing.

"If you count the missing as dead, the typhoon death toll in the Philippines is higher than the civilian lives lost in Afghanistan during the same period," Recto said.

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