Legarda Calls for Debris Management to Prevent Further Disasters From Yolanda Aftermath

November 24, 2013

Two weeks after Typhoon Yolanda pummeled communities in central Philippines, Senator Loren Legarda said that debris management should be given equal importance to prevent further disasters from the storm’s aftermath.


“Along with efforts to provide food, shelter, medicine and new sources of livelihood for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda should be a debris management system. We need to clear out the debris in devastated communities so that restoring public services and rebuilding communities will be less difficult,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Climate Change and Environment and Natural Resources.


“We need to remove and clean everything that could possibly bring more harm. There should be proper management of toxic wastes especially from hospitals and factories that have been damaged,” Legarda said. “On the other hand, some wood and steel debris collected could still be recycled,” she added.


Legarda said that the government can actually hire the survivors to work on clearing operations through the cash-for-work scheme.


“The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) should lead the debris management and they can tap typhoon survivors as workers for the cleaning and clearing operations. We accomplish two goals with this scheme and I am sure this would work because the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has done a similar program for the survivors of Typhoon Pablo in 2012,” she explained.


The Senator noted that early this year, survivors of the 2012 Typhoon Pablo, particularly those in Davao and Compostela Valley, were prioritized to be hired as workers under the DENR’s National Greening Program.


“We have already encouraged the DENR to do this again for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. This is a good way to start the rehabilitation of disaster-stricken areas and provide psychological upliftment for the survivors,” said Legarda, who is the vice chairperson of the Senate Finance subcommittee that handles the budget of the DENR.


She said that the cash-for-work strategy was also adopted by Indonesia for the survivors of the 2004 tsunami and it proved successful.


Moreover, Legarda called on the government to heed the advice of Mr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who headed Indonesia’s recovery efforts from the 2004 tsunami.


Among his recommendations is the immediate planning and carrying out of the reconstruction program, which should be well thought out, ensuring that we do not rebuild the risks again.


“Yolanda is the new benchmark for disaster prevention. We always have to make our communities prepared for a supertyphoon as strong as Yolanda. There should be a shift from merely reactive efforts to proactive strategies. We have to prepare our communities to prevent disasters and lessen the need for relief and rehabilitation,” she stressed.


“I urge all LGUs to conduct disaster risk assessments to determine if their barangay is prone to flooding or storm surge, or is underneath a fault line. The results of the risk assessment should be the basis of the LGUs’ disaster risk reduction and management plan, which must include investments in resilient infrastructure. I call on our local leaders to make DRR an integral component of their leadership because powerful and more frequent typhoons are the new normal, and therefore we must build resilient, stronger and better communities,” Legarda concluded.