Legarda on Yolanda Anniversary: Let Us Bring Filipino Resilience to a Higher Level

November 6, 2014

One year after Supertyphoon Yolanda battered Central Visayas and other nearby regions, Senator Loren Legarda today said that the well-known Filipino resilience should be manifested even before a natural hazard occurs.


“The world recognizes the resilience of the Filipino spirit. Even after experiencing the worst disaster, we find reason to smile and laugh, we help others even if we are victims too, and we immediately go about our business. Resilience has been a remarkable strength of our citizens, but at the end of the day, the greater challenge after a typhoon or earthquake is always: how do we rebuild our communities?” said Legarda.


“One year after Yolanda devastated numerous communities in Central Visayas and nearby regions, I hope we all have learned our lessons well. Let us bring our resilience to a higher level—where we need not weep for a lost loved one after a natural hazard and where there is less or no more damaged infrastructure and properties because we have already managed to make our communities safe,” she stressed.


Legarda, United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, said she hopes that the rehabilitation plan of the government will be carried out well so that the survivors would not face the same tragedy again.


“I am glad that our government has embraced the concept of ‘building back better’. In building back better, we must rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again; we need to ensure that reconstruction of homes and infrastructure will be on safer ground following geohazard maps and sound construction standards; we need to re-start and create livelihoods; and restore normalcy to people’s lives with a stronger sense of hope and confidence for the future,” she explained.


Legarda also reiterated key lessons from Yolanda and other disasters that caused great devastation, such as typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, Sendong and Pablo.


First, we must focus on managing the risks rather than managing disasters.  Local disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) plans are indispensable. Funds should be sufficiently allocated. Cooperation among local and national governments, businesses, and the communities is imperative.


Second, governments and businesses need to let science work for our communities. The best solutions are possible only with the guidance of science.  Develop land use plans that are risk sensitive.  The dictum is not just to build, but build stronger.  Build for the future.


Third, protect our environment and pursue green urban development.  We need to go back to the basics: protect our ecosystems and natural buffers such as mangrove forests to mitigate floods, storm surges and other hazards. Design and enforce building standards to address future hazards, not past ones.


Fourth, we should all be ‘disaster-literate’. We need to understand and believe in the risks.  Everybody should be part of the solution.


Finally, prepare adequately and engage. While disaster prevention should be the greater focus of our efforts, response preparedness is likewise important to prevent further casualties and reduce losses. Contingency plans are crucial in times of disasters. LGUs must have the political will to implement forced evacuation when called for. With adequate and proper preparation, we would already have won half the battle.


“We do not hope for more natural hazards to come, but that is already part of our lives. We only hope that when the next typhoon or earthquake strikes, the world will laud us for our strength, for the greater resilience of our communities—zero casualty, minimal property damage, quick response and recovery,” said Legarda.