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- Disaster Preparedness by Albayanos: The Perfect Example
- What Moves Has the Government Made for Disaster and Calamity Preparedness?
- Has The Philippines Been Successful in Softening the Blow from Disasters and Calamities?
As an archipelago found within the Pacific Ring of Fire and along the Typhoon Belt, the Philippines plays host to dozens of typhoons each year and is home to a handful of active volcanoes. This makes the Philippines highly prone to natural calamities and disasters – necessitating solid disaster management and preparedness plans for both national and local government units.
Notable and still fresh in the minds of the Filipinos are the devastating earthquake in Bohol in October 2013, the world’s strongest super typhoon, Haiyan (local code name Yolanda), which hit Tacloban City in November 2013, and Typhoon Goni, which hit Catanduanes in November 2020.
With years of calamities shaking the nation in only short intervals, disaster preparedness has become a daily life routine for some Filipinos, including those living within the vicinities of fault lines and active volcanoes.
Disaster Preparedness by Albayanos: The Perfect Example
Leading the charge in bringing calamity preparedness to light are Albayanos, who have more or less perfected disaster mitigation through fool-proof evacuation plans and general preparedness. In fact, The United Nations (UN) has declared Albay as its Global Model in climate-change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR), and Salceda, a multi-awarded campaigner for CCA and DRR, as its Senior Global Champion and spokesman on CCA-DRR.
Albay, one of the most disaster-prone areas in the country, has initiated pioneering programs in CCA-DRR, which have earned its awards and recognitions from both national and international institutions. Among such honors are three Gawad Kalasag Awards and a Hall of Fame niche from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Albay has invested substantially in strengthening infrastructures to mitigate damage during calamities, as well as disaster preparedness products to ensure that they are well-equipped when calamities are due to hit.
Its multibillion-peso Albay Guidacale (Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi) Economic Township Program was initially a geostrategic intervention to move people from risky areas to safer grounds but is now fast shaping up as an economic development platform to transform its 64,000-hectare area into a sprawling business boom center.
The Albay provincial government now conducts regular training on risk reduction in schools and local communities and has set in place early warning systems and emergency management equipment.
What Moves Has the Government Made for Disaster and Calamity Preparedness?
Faced by the growing concerns about uncaused events, such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruption, the government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), formerly known as the National Disaster Coordinating Council, recognized the value of setting aside a designated period for people to focus their attention on the need to prepare for natural disasters. Some of the government efforts in place today include:
Government Agency Earthquake Response Programs
According to the Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, mandating government agencies are required to create programs aimed at reducing risks from earthquakes. These may include plans that address vulnerabilities to disaster, the implementation of disaster risk reduction programs, as well as policy and socioeconomic development planning.
DOST Geohazard Mapping
The Department of Science and Technology has developed earthquake- and volcano-related maps that aim to increase the accessibility of crucial environmental and risk information for Filipinos online.
National Building and Structure Regulations
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has highlighted the need to strictly impose regulations on buildings and structures in order to minimize the impact of earthquakes, citing a study that half-a-million residential buildings in Metro Manila area will be heavily or partly damaged if a magnitude-7.2 earthquake occurs in the West Valley Fault, also known as the Marikina fault line, which runs through Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Metro Manila, as well as Quezon City, Pasig, Taguig and Muntinlupa.
In addition to these government plans and programs, various groups and individuals see the need to assess whether Filipinos have already conformed to the requirements of the new Building Code and other pertinent regulations, including the retrofitting of houses, buildings, and other structures.
There’s also the need to check if the country has enough essential resources in the event of earthquakes, in the form of hospitals, disaster-management centers, roads, broadcast media, fire and ambulance stations, and telecommunication facilities.
Proper information dissemination is also necessary to properly prepare citizens for the impending disaster. Through learning programs and even international days for disaster risk reduction, various government agencies and non-government organizations can reach Filipinos and ensure that they are equipped with all the needed information so that they know how they will respond for their own safety.
Has The Philippines Been Successful in Softening the Blow from Disasters and Calamities?
Fortunately, through the countless mitigation efforts of the Philippine government, as well as the efforts of non-government institutions in disseminating crucial information as well as creating plans and systems for disaster and calamity preparedness, we have now begun to see palpable effects in our disaster reliability. From lower death tolls to effective supply distribution to affected families, the Philippines has now started to finally get disaster preparedness right.
In 2014, Typhoon Ruby hit Eastern Samar and Masbate. Due to early preparations and efforts of the government, we experienced a general success in avoiding a massive death toll, showing that the Philippines has finally found a way to mitigate the damage inflicted by storms. While Ruby was not as strong as Haiyan – one of the most devastating typhoons in the Philippines, there was no comparison when it comes to loss of life.
This success was highly credited to three words: “Preemptive Mandatory Evacuation.” Data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council show that over 1 million Filipinos were moved out of Ruby’s path, compared with the 125,000 who were forced to evacuate their homes when Yolanda approached the country in November 2013. Interestingly, the initial paths of both storms were almost the same.
“The government’s swift evacuation response has saved many from injury and even death,” United Nations Children’s Fund Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander said in a statement.
Executing an evacuation plan of this magnitude is not easy, by any measure. It takes strict coordination, from the very top to the individual who has the job of knocking on the doors of those who need to be moved. Supplies must be put in place and protected from damage.
As our response to Ruby showed, we had a good system in place and people who properly implemented it.