Legarda to Gov’t: Prioritize Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)-It Has Become a National Security Concern

December 20, 2011

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that the magnitude of the disaster brought by Tropical Storm Sendong is very disturbing with more than 900 persons feared to have been killed by disastrous flash floods and landslides. It has also affected 63,079 families in 260 barangays in the 13 provinces of Regions VI, VII, IX, X, XI, CARAGA, and ARMM.
“The human losses are alarming, and likewise is what we expect with the economic damages. With this calamitous flood disaster, now the fourth that has struck our country, and the second in Mindanao just this year, climate change is now a clear and present danger and a national security concern for our country,” the Senator pointed out.
Legarda also stressed the need for disaster-resilient development planning, which means the integration of disaster risks into local land use and development plans.
She noted the Department of Environment and National Resources’ (DENR) statement that geo-hazard maps revealing high-risk areas along rivers in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City that should not be inhabited were not heeded.
She also explained that for local governments in the Philippines, the authority and system of comprehensive land use planning provides the opportunity for the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
At present, there are 340 LGUs, which still need to update their CLUPs. Most of these are 3rd to 6th class municipalities that have low income but high vulnerability to various types of disasters. In addition, 23 provinces are also in need of developing their Physical Framework Plans.
“With the advent of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010 and the Climate Change Act of 2009, the time and institutions are ripe for the integration of DRR and CCA in local land use planning,” she said.
Furthermore, Legarda also said it is high-time for the country to have an integrated flood forecasting, warning and response system and a holistic approach to the flood risk problem.
“The Government cannot be and should not be fragmented in dealing with flood risks. The country cannot afford recurring widespread floods that continually erode our development gains.”
“The national and local governments should ensure that recovery and rehabilitation efforts would not rebuild the flood risk or introduce new vulnerabilities, but instead reduce them effectively and build community resilience to floods.”
“To all national and local leaders of our country, we must realize that reducing disaster risk is our moral responsibility to the people, a commitment to good governance that transcends political boundaries. Now is the time to make a difference. We have known the risk and we must act now. We cannot allow another Sendong to happen again,” Legarda concluded.