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Human Face of Floods

September 18, 2013

 

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA
Privilege Speech on the Human Face of Floods
Senate Session Hall
September 18, 2013

Stranded commuters, long queues in public transport stations, students wading in flood waters, stalled cars, highways and streets inundated by flood waters, bancas in city streets as a mode of transportation—this has become a usual  scenario as the new normal weather events bring voluminous rains, causing floods of various levels in the metropolis.
Ginoong Pangulo,
 
Normal sa isang nanay na nagtatrabaho ang gumising nang maaga para ayusin ang pangangailangan ng kaniyang asawa at mga anak na pumapasok sa trabaho at paaralan. Ngunit kung dati ay gumigising siya ng alas-singko ng umaga, ngayon ay gumigising siya nang mas maaga dahil kapag bumuhos ang malakas na ulan, sigurado na kasunod nito ang pagbaha.
 
Pag matindi ang ulan, asahan na ang dati’y isang oras na biyahe ay magiging dalawa hanggang tatlong oras, o kung minamalas-malas pa ay baka di pa makarating sa trabaho kung may baha.
 
Noon, ang kinatatakutan ng tao ay ang bagyo dahil kasunod nito ay ang pagbaha.  Ngayon, ulan lamang ay baha na.
 
Para sa isang padre de pamilya na sumusuweldo nang arawan, normal na ang pagsuong sa baha at maglakad nang milya-milya para lamang makarating sa trabaho.  Kung hindi niya ito gagawin ay wala siyang ipapakain sa kanyang pamilya.
 
Ulan at baha – ito na ang bagong pagsubok na humaharap sa ating lahat.
 
The torrential rains and the resulting floods not only affect the poor people and the working middle class; it also affects businesses, schools, government offices, trade industry and stock market; it affects the farmers whose crops are washed away by floods; and fisherfolks who would not be able to scour the seas for a bountiful catch due to the harsh weather.
Mayaman, mahirap, bata o matanda, may puwesto o wala, may natapos o wala, taga-siyudad o taga-probinsya—walang sinasanto ang matinding hagupit ng  bagyo at malakas na ulan.  Walang pinipili na pupuntahan ang baha.
Statistics on natural disasters show that, except for the July 1990 earthquake, the most devastating natural disaster in the Philippines in terms of economic damages are mostly due to storms and floods.[1]
In 2012, the single deadliest disaster in the world was typhoon Bopha or Pablo, which left 1,901 people either dead or missing in the Philippines.[2] Our country accounted for 12.5 million victims of natural disasters in 2012 alone or 10.2% of total global disaster victims.[3]
From 1900 to 2013, the Philippines experienced 276 natural disasters due to tropical cyclones with 40,277 casualties, affecting 121,567,227 people, with economic damages worth US$ 8.809 billion.[4]
Hindi pa dito nagtatapos ang hirap.  Batay sa pagsusuri ng Department of Agriculture, gamit ang Geographical Information System, tinatayang labing pitong (17) milyong ektarya ng lupain, na bumubuo ng limangpu at walong porsyento (58%) ng ating mga lupain, ay maaaring malubog sa baha.
According to the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the annual damage to agriculture due to typhoons, droughts and floods already account for 3 percent of total agricultural production estimated to be worth PhP12 billion.
We take note that our government has taken steps to adapt to the new norm. A World Bank study revealed that the Philippines has increased its budget by 26 percent in climate change adaptation programs. However, we need to review how we are using these funds.
During the Senate hearing for the budget of the Climate Change Commission, Vice Chair Lucille Sering noted that about 90 percent of the climate funds between 2008 and 2012 were allocated to address flooding, repair, and rehabilitation of infrastructure and sector support.
While it is very important that we repair damages on our infrastructure after each typhoon, we have to realize that there could be a better way of responding to the new norm we face today.
We need to invest in building more resilient communities and infrastructure. Higher standards for flood control and drainage systems should be enforced. Rainwater catchment facilities and flood monitoring and warning systems need to be installed.  We have numerous laws, including the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, that need to be strictly enforced.
Mr. President,
The new norm is a big threat to our basic human rights—food, potable water, shelter, decent livelihood and life itself. And we are not the only country that is facing this great challenge.
Even a powerful nation, the United States, suffered the most expensive natural disaster in Hurricane Sandy in 2012 with estimated economic damages at $50 billion; more than 17 million people in China suffered from a single typhoon in June last year; and even the small island nation of Maldives, considers buying land in other countries because their nation is threatened by continuous inundation with water from rising sea levels.
No matter where we are in the world, the warming climate affects us all. We can only do so much to save the world, but we can give our best to save our home, our country.
Batid po natin lahat na ang mga bagyo ay pangkaraniwan sa ating bansa. Ngunit ngayon, padalas nang padalas ang pagdating ng mapanira at mapinsalang ulan kahit sa panahong dati-rati ay wala namang bagyo. Hindi tayo pwedeng magkibit-balikat sa tumitinding panganib na dulot nito. Hindi natin kailangang maging biktima sa tuwing darating ang malakas na ulan o bagyo.
 
Sa ating pagsusuri ng budget ng mga ahensiya ng ating pamahalaan ay isaisip natin ang matinding pangangailangan na pag-ibayuhin ang  ating kakayahang lumaban sa tinatawag na bagong “normal”. ***

 


[1] International Disaster Database maintained by the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).
[2] AON Benfield’s Impact Forecasting entitled “December 2012 Global Catastrophic Recap”
[3] CRED
[4] Ibid.