Legarda on 2nd Yolanda Anniversary: More Lessons to be LearnedNovember 7, 2015
Senator Loren Legarda today said that there are more lessons to be learned following the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda two years ago.
“The rehabilitation process has been slow and the number one proof is the remaining unutilized disaster funds and donations,” said Legarda, Chairperson of the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change.
According to the Commission on Audit (COA), only Php38.7 million or 28% of the Php137 million donations received by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for Yolanda victims was released by the end of 2014.
“While Yolanda has brought massive devastation, it is not the first time we are responding and rehabilitating disaster-hit areas. By now, the government should already have a system to ensure that rehabilitation and recovery programs are immediately carried out. Every single day that survivors remain in temporary shelters or deprived of support to get back to their own feet adds to their suffering. It certainly is hard to explain to disaster victims why the government has so much unused funds while they continue to suffer from the destruction caused by a typhoon that happened two years ago,” said Legarda.
The Senator also said that the lessons of Yolanda should continuously remind everyone about the importance of disaster preparedness and risk reduction.
“We notice the improvements, especially in the issuance of advisories and early warnings. There are local governments that are able to enforce early evacuation. But we need to do more. The prepositioning of goods should be more efficient. We need to conduct massive education and information campaign on disaster preparedness so that communities do not remain complacent,” Legarda said.
“We need to ensure that in rebuilding communities, we are not rebuilding the risks again. We must reduce the risks and not create new risks. If a community is prone to landslides, consult the geohazard map to see where relocation is possible; otherwise, we will continue to incur damages and rebuild again when typhoons occur. That is certainly not a mark of resilience. In coastal communities, there should be mangrove reforestation because mangroves sequester carbon and are good buffers for storm surge and tsunami,” she added.
The Senator also reminded local government units to craft their climate change adaptation programs for funding under the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) and called on the Executive to sign the implementing rules and regulations of the PSF Law. The Climate Change Commission has announced that it is ready to accept climate change adaptation proposals from LGUs and community organizations for evaluation and approval of the PSF Board.
“We need to adapt because stronger typhoons and other natural hazards are the new normal. Yolanda was just an example. We should expect more of it, but more important is to be prepared for these extreme weather events. We will never be disaster resilient unless we learn the lessons of past disasters,” Legarda concluded.