Press Release
March 22, 2011

"Disaster Risk Reduction is Everybody's Business!"
Legarda Stresses Importance of Gov't-Private Sector Partnership
in Disaster Preparedness

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the importance of a strong partnership between the government and the private sector in strengthening the country's disaster preparedness and resilience.

During the second hearing of the Senate Committee on Climate Change on the government's disaster preparedness, Legarda, the committee chair, said that while the government is putting in place various disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures, the private sector should take the initiative of doing their share in such effort.

"While the government is mandated to ensure the security and welfare of the state's citizens, it cannot do such a gargantuan task alone. For instance, during earthquakes, both the public and private sectors must ensure the public's safety," she explained.

"Good urban governance is key to earthquake safety. Local governments must relentlessly assess and rectify the vulnerability of public structures in their respective areas. Meanwhile, administrators of office buildings and malls must also ensure earthquake safety in their premises and have contingency plans well in place and tested for preventing panic and stampede and handling the injured in the event of an earthquake," she added.

Legarda also said that both sectors must unite in coming up with an effective and widespread information campaign on disaster preparedness. They must develop strategies that would help people understand natural hazards, identify the signs of an impending danger, and know what to do when disasters occur.

"It is not enough that the government as an institution is prepared because no matter how up-to-date or high-tech the disaster prevention mechanisms are, they would not be effective if the public remains uninformed or misinformed of what they have to do during disasters," she pointed out.

The Senator explained that national agencies such as the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), need the help of local government units and the private sector in providing timely and accurate information to the people.

She added that the regular conduct of fire and earthquake drills in schools, hospitals, malls, office buildings, condominium units and other establishments is essential to make the public more confident that they are equipped with the necessary information in dealing with disasters.

"Disaster risk reduction is everybody's business. We all have to work together--the national government, the LGUs, the private sector--in ensuring that our country and all our citizens are ready to prevent hazards from turning into devastating disasters," Legarda concluded.

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