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Editorial: Moving on and disaster preparedness

by BenCyrus G. Ellorin for Cebu Daily News

June 8, 2012 – The onset of the rainy season and typhoons with it, underscore the need to be ready for natural and man-made calamities.

The passage of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management law or Republic Act 10121 aimed to bring about a paradigm shift in the way the country faces disasters, from a focus on just responding to emergencies to disaster impact mitigation and preparedness.

The United Nations-backed World Risk Report last year ranked the Philippines as the third most disaster-vulnerable country in the world. The only countries that ranked higher are the small South Pacific island-nations of Vanuatu and Tonga.

Last year, typhoons Pedring, Quiel and Sendong claimed more than 3,000 lives and caused P20 billion in damage.

Most of the damage was caused by lack of foresight. There was also criminal negligence on the part of authorities who were aware of grave disaster risks but didn’t do much about it.

Time and again, studies have shown that it is more costly to respond to natural and man-made disasters than to mitigate their impact.

Ondoy in 2009 and Sendong last year were grim examples.

While developing countries like the Philippines can barely afford the cost of a single disaster and relies on the international donor community when it strikes, it behooves the government to enforce policies and provide infrastructure that protects people from extreme weather events.

With climate change a reality, enough studies have warned of more frequent and powerful storms ahead.

With the impeachment trial over, and Chief Justice Renato Corona packing up in disgrace, it’s time to get moving on bigger issues.

One of the significant measures passed in the House of Representatives this week was House Bill 3528 or the People’s Survival Fund bill.

The Senate version principally authored by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was passed in October last year even before the impeachment trial.

Last Wednesday, Congress ratified the bicameral committee report. The People’s Survival Fund Law of 2012 is on its way to Malacañang for the President’s signature.

The law will create a trust fund which local government units can tap to support projects for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Seeing Congress act on this important legislation is heartening. After PNoy’s ink dries on the document, let’s see the rest of the government make good use of it.#