By Imelda V. Abano & Bong Fabe, BusinessMirror, Feb 19,2012
(pnej web photo by EV Espiritu)
Pimentel, who convened the Mindanao Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction and Geo-Hazard Awareness together with Sen. Teofisto Guingona III on Feb. 18-19, told the 500 participants mostly from Mindanao that better planning is needed as the vulnerability of the country to catastrophes is growing.
Guingona called for the crafting of a comprehensive disaster management plan for Mindanao, noting that what happens in one place in the island affects other places.
“It is now time to have a Mindanao island-wide disaster management plan. Disaster and calamities such as typhoons and storms no longer spare Mindanao. What happened in one place also affect others,” he said at the sideline of the Mindanao Disaster Risk Reduction Summit which opened here the morning of Saturday, Feb. 18.
Guingona, who calls the province of Bukidnon home, said that the environment in Mindanao is interconnected and as such, one city’s or province’s disaster management plan should be related to the plan of its neighbors.
“It is no longer acceptable that a city or province has a disaster management plan that is not connected or related to its neighbors’ Mindanao now needs a comprehensive plan for disaster,” he stressed.
The summit was organized two months after Typhoon Sendong hit Northern Mindanao, killing more than 1,200 people and destroying homes, schools, agriculture products and infrastructures especially in this city and Iligan City.
At present, hundreds of families are still living in the evacuation centers and temporary shelters which generally have no electricity and not enough water, food and other basic needs. They are also poorly ventilated.
“We need to know better ideas on how to mitigate the effects of natural disasters and even to prevent man-made catastrophes,” Pimentel said during the summit, adding that the economic and human impact of the disasters in the country is extraordinary.
Pimentel cited the provincial government of Albay as a model in the implementation of disaster management and climate-change adaptation, especially during natural calamities such as volcanic eruption, typhoons, landslides, floods and storm surges.
He said Albay Gov. Joey Salceda is an “effective manager and mover” in terms of handling disasters and formulating proactive responses and measures to prevent casualties during calamities.
In response, Salceda said local government units “now have more reason to strengthen their efforts to make the country disaster-resilient at the grassroots level.”
Guingona said the biggest challenge for the country is how to better respond to future disasters and adapt to the changing global weather pattern.
“In the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong, we all finally had to face a difficult reality that times have changed and with it, climate also changed,” Guingona said, adding that planning is essential to respond to future disasters.
Sen. Loren Legarda applauded the readiness of various sectors in Mindanao to cooperate in raising awareness in disaster mitigation and commitment to action.
“We cannot, however, be caught off-balanced and be discouraged. Instead, we must strive to match our best intentions and expressed commitments with scaled up efforts in reducing disaster and climate risks. Ultimately, the actions that we take and the decisions we make will define the future that we want for Mindanao,” Legarda said.
Legarda said that political will, clear understanding of risk, genuine regard for environmental protection and disaster prevention, preparedness for effective response, good governance, and concern and vigilance will prevent natural hazards from turning into disasters.
“The challenge we face now is how to rebuild a better Mindanao, communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again; we need to ensure that reconstruction of homes and infrastructure will be in safer ground following sound construction standards; we need to soon re-start and create livelihoods; and restore normalcy in people’s lives with a stronger sense of hope and confidence for the future,” she said.
Sec. Lucille Sering of the Climate Change Commission stated that there is a need for a systematic linkage between disaster-risk reduction (DRR) and climate-change adaptation (CCA) to advance sustainable development, population, human security and health.
“We have to do a pro-active approach and integrate disaster management and CCA. The economic and human impact of disasters is extraordinary and so we urgently need to respond through better management, communication and planning,” Sering said.
Sering said the Australian government recently approved Aus$1.5 million for the Philippines to tackle climate-risk reduction through climate-change vulnerability assessment, development of priority of DRR management and CCA, communication and competency development of local experts, government leaders and civic groups, and addressing the country’s socioeconomic strategies.
At the summit, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission Andrew Byrne said the Australian government has provided P351 million emergency response package for the victims of Typhoon Sendong.
See full story at http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/home/regions/23453-mindanao-solons-want-planning-to-avoid-calamities