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Lessons and Hope for Change from Senator Loren Legarda

August 9, 2012

“SOON THE HEAVY RAINS WILL CEASE AND THE FLOODS WILL SUBSIDE. THE VICTIMS WILL HAVE TO REBUILD THEIR LIVES FROM THE TRAGEDY AND DEVASTATION. THIS FLOOD IS WORSE THAN ONDOY. I HOPE SERIOUS GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE SECTOR EFFORTS TO BUILD BACK BETTER THE AFFECTED COMMUNITIES WOULD START IMMEDIATELY. WE MUST LEARN THE LESSONS OF ONDOY WHICH THIS RECENT WIDESPREAD FLOODING BRINGS TO FORE ONCE AGAIN.
“One lesson is clear: We must realize that heavy and excessive rainfall is part of the ‘new norm.’ We must implement immediately our new laws that promote disaster and climate risk reduction. We must endeavor to prevent or reduce flood disaster. As the old adage goes, prevention is always better than cure.
“The nation’s capital needs a comprehensive recovery and rehabilitation plan that will reduce people’s vulnerability and increase the resilience of all sectors to floods. Such plan should be developed and implemented together with key stakeholders and must not be abandoned like the recovery and rehabilitation efforts following Ondoy.
“More importantly, we must assess our respective work in reducing flood risk, if we are really making any headway amid the ‘new norm’ we experience in this era of climate change. Are we working on preventing and mitigating the floods or merely responding to their onslaught? Pursuant to our new laws, we must put greater emphasis and invest more (70-30) on disaster prevention and mitigation and risk reduction measures (which bring cost benefit returns as much as: $1 invested in prevention yields $7-14 saved in response cost according to United Nations and World Bank studies) over disaster response (which is costly and unsustainable). This is the new paradigm shift. However, it seems the shift still has to take place. And our wish for local governments & communities to know the risk and protect lives and property way before any natural hazard strikes remains a goal.
“Are LGUs aware of communities at risk of landslide? How many families have been relocated to safer areas?
“Have Metro Manila LGUs dredged or cleaned up regularly their esteros and strictly prohibited and monitored garbage dumping in them?
“What is MMDA doing with the missing esteros and those with structures on them?
“What improvement in the protocol for dam water releases is required in view of the recent widespread flooding?
“Let’s aim at preventing natural hazards (typhoon, strong wind, heavy rains, storm surges, quake, etc.) from becoming disaster situations through effective risk reduction and management. While disaster response preparedness is important, it is never enough for saving lives and reducing socio-economic losses substantially. This action is last of five priorities set by the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) for disaster risk reduction (DRR).
“The Philippines is reputed as model for implementing the first HFA priority which is policy legislation and governance for DRR. Let’s implement well our laws and deliver the benefits the Filipino people long deserve. Strong political will at national and local levels can help bring about the big change we want to see.”