Gov’t Convergence, Public-Private Partnership Vital in Improving Disaster Preparedness—Legarda

June 30, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today said that convergence among government agencies and close coordination between the public and private sectors are integral to improving disaster risk reduction efforts in the country.

“In terms of building resilience, we already have the necessary laws; the budget allocation has been increasing; early warning systems have been established in most areas; forecasting tools have improved; and many other programs on disaster preparedness are in place. But to ensure that these laws and programs would work, we would need all concerned government agencies and local government units (LGUs) to be in sync. The participation of the private sector is crucial as well,” said Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.

Legarda made the statement in response to the assessment of Margareta Wahlstrom, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, the Philippines ranks between 6 and 7 on its level of preparedness for natural hazards.

During the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangkok, Wahlstrom said that many LGUs have a good level of preparedness, but noted that the country, both in the national and local level, should already reach level 8 or 9 preparedness, considering the lessons learned after experiencing many disasters.

Legarda said a crucial step is ensuring that DRR is at the core of every government agency’s agenda. All government agencies should be aware of their respective roles before, during and after the occurrence of a natural hazard.

“The agencies of government must work together to protect our environment; improve early warning systems; climate-proof the national budget; ensure the integrity of buildings and infrastructure; educate citizens, including the youth, about their role in DRR; invest in and promote the use of renewable energy; promote social protection schemes, such as crop insurance to ease impact on highly vulnerable groups including farmers and fisherfolk during disasters; ensure that there are back-up systems for communication and other of vital utilities necessary for rescue and post-disaster efforts; and maintain peace and order especially in the aftermath of disasters, among other things that the government must carry out for disaster preparedness and resilience,” the Senator said.

Legarda also said that the government must encourage the private sector to make their enterprises resilient. The business community should have a robust business continuity planning and embed DRR in business processes to strengthen resilience, competitiveness and sustainability.

She added that the government should forge a strong partnership with the private sector in addressing disaster risks.

Legarda noted that the recently enacted “Free Mobile Disaster Act”, which mandates mobile service providers to send out free disaster alerts to subscribers in affected areas, could only be effective with close and timely coordination between relevant agencies and telecommunications service providers.

“Making our nation resilient is challenging but never impossible especially with smooth coordination among agencies of government and all sectors of society. The key is to work together, as one community, as one nation,” Legarda concluded.