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Building a Resilient Mindanao A Peer-to-Peer Learning Exchange on Reducing Vulnerabilities and Adapting to Climate Change

May 5, 2012

Building a Resilient Mindanao
A Peer-to-Peer Learning Exchange on Reducing Vulnerabilities and Adapting to Climate Change
The Oriental Hotel, Legazpi City, Albay
May 05, 2012

It is with great pleasure to be part of this Peer-to-Peer Learning Exchange on Reducing Vulnerabilities and Adapting to Climate Change initiated by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction.
In holding this forum, I am grateful to Albay Governor Joey Salceda for hosting it and sharing his expertise, advice, and good governance practices towards building a more resilient Mindanao.
Thank you, too, to Congressman Rufus Rodriguez for extending his full support for this important initiative and for committing to champion disaster risk reduction in Cagayan de Oro City.
The collaborative support that the Climate Change Commission, AusAid, Plan International, and the Office of Civil Defense have extended is highly appreciated.
Four months after Sendong, we recall the alarming human losses and economic damages inflicted by the storm in Mindanao. The fusion of socio-economic realities and extreme climatic events demand scaled up efforts in reducing disaster and climate risks. I am glad that our exchange participants today have devoted their time for this learning visit, fully aware of the opportunity to learn, to build back better communities and to make the right choices for our people in Mindanao.
As you may know, the Philippine legislature has taken a proactive stance by passing the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010. The challenge has been to translate these national policies into local executive action that will save lives and reduce disaster losses.
The important starting point is political commitment, and our measure for success is more disaster-resilient investments and, fundamentally, better and greater quality of life for our long-suffering people.
Through the inspired and inspiring leadership of Governor Joey Salceda, we have witnessed how his political will and passion to uphold the fundamental rights of the people to improved quality of life has worked wonders for Albay.
Our visiting LGUs can learn much from the many pioneering initiatives that addresses effectively the challenge of reducing risk, reducing poverty, and rebuilding communities without engendering new vulnerabilities.
We have the financial resources needed to rebuild from the previous disaster and prepare for the next hazard.
In December 2011, the government has downloaded US$500 million from the World Bank, from its Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (CAT-DDO).
Seventy percent (70%) of the P7.5-billion allocation for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund this year should also be tapped for our post-Sendong reconstruction efforts. I believe our technical agencies, the NDRRMC, DBM and DOF can shed light on this because it is not enough that resources are available. Those who are in need of it should be guided on how to access it properly.
I hope that through this workshop, our LGUs could draw up with an action plan with proposed projects that NDRRMC could endorse to the President for possible funding from the NDRRM Fund.
I note that shelter still remains the most critical issue for Sendong victims. As you may be aware, the Government initially committed to provide all victims with permanent housing by June or July 2012, a deadline not likely to be met because of the many constraints.
The DSWD spent 203.07 million pesos for the construction of Core Shelter Units numbering 2,410 in Cagayan de Oro City while the National Housing Authority NHA allotted 129.8 million pesos for land acquisition. Meanwhile, over 5,000 housing units were completed by non-government organizations and private companies.
We need to ensure that these housing units fully address the needs of the 200,000 people displaced by the disaster.
We need to ensure that we build back better in our disaster recovery efforts by applying good building materials and adhering to building standards and practices.
I hope this forum has been an effective avenue to identify and pursue solutions to these issues.
As elected leaders we have a moral obligation to the people, a commitment to good governance that transcends political and territorial boundaries. The tasks before national and local leaders are straightforward: We have to make our communities safer, more resilient, and more prepared to respond whenever a disaster strikes.
Our actions should enable us to institutionalize a new brand of governance — the kind of governance that ensures environmental, climate change and risk reduction laws and regulations are fully implemented.
Our actions should be able to engage all key stakeholders and sectors, to promote cooperation and coordination among themselves, to promote greater risk awareness in communities.
Our political will, clear understanding of risks, genuine regard for environmental protection and disaster prevention, preparedness for effective response, good governance, and our concern and vigilance—all these will prevent natural hazards from turning into disasters.
We must ensure that in the years to come, families will need not leave their homes when natural hazards strike as they reside in safer communities; farmers and fishermen are assured of better yield; parents can send their children to school with the assurance that they are safe inside their classrooms; local development need not be stalled by massive destruction; and future generations can feel the warmth of nature and the abundance of our resources.
Now is the time to secure the future that we want for our people.
Thank you and good day.