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Joint Hearing of the Committee on Climate Change and Committee on Environmental & Natural Resources

March 16, 2011

As I speak before you today, Japan is in a state of disaster after a powerful earthquake and ensuing tsunami hit its country and caused widespread destruction. Its grim and tragic aftermath left thousands of people dead, injured, and homeless. As rescue workers dig out victims from the rubble and more people are brought to safety, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the Government and people of Japan, especially to the grieving and displaced families.
Once again, we witness a disaster strike, revealing the earthquake vulnerability of communities, even of developed countries. We witness the perilous effects of the disaster, such as the tsunami and the explosion of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, giving rise to the threat of a radiation leakage and of aftershocks. Again, we are reminded that there still exist so many structures, seemingly sturdy from the outside that can collapse in an earthquake. More importantly, we are made to realize that even the most prepared countries, those with strict building codes and cutting-edge early warning technology, still fall prey to disasters.
Given the wide range of issues that have to be addressed, we will be having a series of hearings, but for our agenda today, we shall focus on the technical aspects of our local disaster preparedness.
We are here today to assess the state of earthquake and tsunami preparedness of our country as well as the state of the country’s early warning system for disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes. We would also like to know about the current structural integrity of our buildings and civil infrastructure, (e.g. bridges, dams, ports, hospitals and schools that serve as temporary shelters for displaced families) and if there have been measures for the retrofitting of these critical infrastructures to withstand disasters. We also want to determine whether we have back-up systems of vital utilities (e.g. electricity, water supply and communication) that are considered necessities for speedy recovery and rehabilitation efforts.
Before we proceed and before we ask our fellow senators to make their opening statements, we would like to manifest for the record, that the Committee on Climate Change, for purposes of courtesy, has informed the Chair of the Committee on National Defense that it shall proceed with the consideration of the Zubiri Resolution (Proposed Senate Resolution No. 426) upon advisement and as manifested by the Majority Leader in Senate plenary.
And now, may we ask the senators present to make their opening statements…