March 13, 2012
MINDANAO DECLARATION ADOPTED VERSUS NATURAL DISASTERS
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, organizer of the recently-concluded First Mindanao Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction and Geo-Hazard Awareness, says the comprehensive action plan adopted during the assembly is a positive indication that the risks of disasters and the threats posed by geo-hazard can be greatly reduced.
He called on development partners to support local, regional and island-wide initiatives to reduce risks to disaster in the spirit of, and in accordance with the Hyogo Framework for Action, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency response, Children's Charter on DRR and other regional and international resolutions and agreements.
Quoting the salient points of the declaration adopted by the summit participants, the Mindanao solon said "the vulnerability of communities and localities to disasters and calamities can be addressed with proper management of the sources of risk, level of exposure and build-up of adaptive capacity.
"Disasters, when properly addressed, can be mitigated, if not entirely prevented, utilizing the right measures in place at all levels but especially community-oriented initiatives and implemented by all sectors," said Pimentel, adding that equipping communities with the capability to manage disasters when they occur give the citizens mechanisms for survival.
The Summit's eight-point plan includes disaster education and information campaign, emergency preparedness and response, strict enforcement of laws, national legislation, among others.
Pimentel said it is incumbent upon the government and other concerned institutions to make citizens aware of the grave threats that climate change poses to human lives and properties.
"Unless integrated adaption-mitigation programs on disaster risk reduction are implemented to the letter, our island (Mindanao) will be severely affected by the impact of geo-hazards and climate change," Pimentel stressed.
Prioritized approaches are the utilization of up-to-date scientific research, training and information and communication interventions, the strict implementation by the national and local governments of environmental, natural resources and land use laws, the passage of pending bills such as the People's Survival fund, People's Solidarity Fund and Land Use Act, river basin development and management and the setting up of the appropriate institutional mechanisms.
Among the active participants and speakers were Climate Change Commission Chair Mary Ann Sering, Dr. Gemma Narisma (Manila Observatory), Dr. Alfredo Lagmay (UP National Institute of Geologic Sciences) Dr. Renato Solidum (PHIVOLCS), Dr. Hilly Ann Quiaoit (Research and Social Outreach, Xavier University) Dr. Vicente Malano (PAGASA) and Malu Felizar Cagay (Center for Disaster Preparedness).
Summit participants agreed to collectively work together to implement at all levels the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, the Climate Change Act of 2009, the Philippine Disaster Risk reduction and Action Plan and the National Climate Change Action Plan.
"I thank the participants for sharing their time and expertise in the adoption of this 8-point plan of action that directly addresses disaster risk reduction in the level that the victims of the recent calamity understand; we need everybody's cooperation to brace ourselves for and respond to future calamities," said Pimentel, a native of Cagayan de Oro.
Also sharing their insights during the two-day confab were Senators Loren Legarda and Gregorio Honasan, DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman, CDO Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Maguindanao Rep. Bai A. Sema and Camotes Island Vice-Mayor Alfredo Arquillano.
Collaborating with Pimentel in organizing the summit were Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, Mr. Andrew Byrne (Mission the Philippines, Commonwealth of Australia), Fr. Bobby Yap, SJ (Xavier U), Mr. Edwin Capali (former chair, Dipolog City Chamber of Commerce and Industry).
Pimentel also observed that the mitigation and adaptation measures by all sectors and levels of government have been inadequately implemented and coordinated in combating the devastation wrought by typhoon Sendong, resulting in the inefficient use of resources.
"There is an apparent lack or absence of accountability," Pimentel noted.
He said the setting up of institutional mechanisms for DRR implementation, including putting up of incident command systems at all levels, an LGU rating system for disaster response and accountability, adequate early warning systems using appropriate indigenous and modern communication systems and technology are some of the imperative networks.
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