MANILA, Philippines - An economist and local governance expert yesterday said it is imperative that local communities are prepared for and capable of addressing and managing the risks and ruinous effects caused by disasters.
Gilberto Llanto, a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), said the country is inherently disaster-prone owing to its geographical location.
“It lies on the western rim of the Pacific and along the circum-Pacific seismic belt, subjecting it to typhoons, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, droughts, and other natural hazards. In fact, the country is ranked eighth by the World Bank’s Natural Disaster Hotspot list of countries most exposed to multiple hazards, with 268 recorded disasters over the last three decades,” he said.
In addition, Llanto said 60 percent of the country’s total land area is exposed to multiple hazards and as a result, 74 percent of Filipinos are at risk.
Last Monday, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Negros Island, while Mindanao and Central Luzon were recently battered by heavy floods.
Thus, Llanto said, there is a need to boost the disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) capacities of local government units (LGUs).
In May last year, President Aquino signed into law the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, which calls for the development of policies and plans in dealing with climate change and natural disasters.
Llanto said it is fortunate that local officials are becoming aware of the problem and have shown enthusiasm in improving their DRRM programs.
He particularly commended Albay’s DRRM strategy for its efficiency and effectiveness.
Llanto advised LGUs to build awareness of the “perils and risks of natural disasters and the effects of climate change, which will instill greater consciousness and conviction of the importance of disaster preparedness on the part of the local people.”
He also cited the need to integrate DRRM into local planning and budgeting and for LGUs to develop an early warning system, conduct drills and exercises, enforce regulations, and review and incorporate the potential impact of natural disasters on infrastructure investment plans, design and construction. - By Rhodina Villanueva