Legarda warns against Manila’s High Vulnerability to Disasters

April 2, 2013

Responding to a study citing Asia as the most disaster-prone region in the world, Sen. Loren Legarda today pressed the government to aggressively implement climate change adaptation strategies and action plans for communities to follow.

“The policy framework is already in place. What we need is to make the laws work at the community level,” Legarda said, referring to the Climate Change Act of 2009 which she principally authored, and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which she co-sponsored.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) further reported that thousands of people died in extreme disasters in 2012, and property worth more than $100 billion was lost for the third year in a row. One of the most damaging disasters was typhoon “Pablo,” which left at least 1,900 dead or missing in Mindanao last December and destroyed more than 210,000 houses, vital infrastructure, and vast tracts of agricultural lands.

She said the UNISDR finding gives more urgency to all concerned agencies and stakeholder groups to pursue and implement the action plans and policies to mitigate the impact of climate change and for the people to deepen their understanding of its consequences.

Earlier, Legarda urged the national government to take drastic measures to address the high vulnerability of Manila to destructive weather events brought by climate change before it is too late.

A study conducted by Maplecroft, as contained in its Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2013, ranked Manila second among seven cities highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate-related hazards. The study showed that Manila had gone up eight spots to second place from Maplecroft’s previous study, which ranked the city tenth.

“Our times and climes have changed. The results of the Maplecroft study is a reality that we have to grapple with now; we have to gear up for a battle against the effects brought about by global warming,” Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said.

“We have to take action now, before it is too late. We may have the best laws in the world, but to make these work, we should make sure that these laws are implemented well. Our disaster risk reduction and management system should be proactive, coherent and effective. We have to establish early warning systems in every community, make our infrastructure disaster-resilient, ensure community preparedness whenever natural hazards occur, and we must link disaster risk reduction and preparedness to development planning. We should not train our sights merely on enhancing our capacities to rebuild in times of disasters, but rather on reducing risks for our people and building lasting communities,” Legarda concluded.