Press Release
June 12, 2011

Legarda Urges Filipinos to Help Free the Nation from the
Cycle of Disaster and Poverty

"As the nation celebrates one hundred thirteen years of independence from colonial rule, Filipinos must now work hand-in-hand to liberate each and every citizen and the whole country from the chronic cycle of disaster vulnerability and poverty."

Senator Loren Legarda made the statement as a challenge to every Filipino that the fight for freedom is not over yet.

Legarda said that while the Philippines is now a sovereign nation, the country is yet to free itself and its people from the shackles of poverty, which is caused largely by its vulnerability to disaster risks and climate change.

"Every time a typhoon catches us unprepared, we suffer losses as if we are in a war. We take for instance the 2009 twin typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, which displaced about two million families, killed almost a thousand lives and caused damage and losses amounting to US$ 4.4-billion," she explained.

The Senator noted that a 2004 World Bank study revealed that the annual economic impact of disasters totals $500 million US dollars or about 4% of Gross Domestic Product or GDP. Rural areas where poverty is most prevalent bear the brunt of these economic losses.

Meanwhile, based on a study by the Asian Development Bank on the economics of climate change, the country stands to lose 6% of its GDP annually by 2100 if it disregards climate change risks.

"If this will always be the case every time a natural hazard visits the country, then national progress will always be hindered and stunted. But we are not helpless; we can prevent the damaging effects of typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural hazards through disaster preparedness using the mechanisms we already have such as the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Disaster Risk Management Law of 2010," she stressed. Legarda said that every citizen in every community should be part in the overall effort to make the country disaster-resilient. "Every citizen must demand from their leaders a concrete set of actions to protect the environment and build disaster-resilient communities. Every citizen must be engaged in developing community-based disaster preparedness plans, rehabilitating the environment, responding to early disaster warnings and in promoting sustainable livelihood."

Legarda reminded that as heroes of Philippine Revolution fought for the nation's sovereignty, the Filipinos of this generation must now strive to overcome the challenges of being an independent nation and the government must work hard to provide its people with the basic rights that come with their freedom.

"Disaster risks are now intensified by the effects of climate change--a phenomenon that every nation in the world tries to defend itself from through adaptation. We have to realize that climate change is not just a scientific and environmental issue, but an all encompassing threat to our basic human rights--food, potable water, shelter, decent livelihood and life itself. This is the greatest humanitarian challenge of our times. We have to act now or we will forever be defenseless victims of nature's fury," Legarda concluded.

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