November 12, 2013
Legarda On Yolanda Aftermath: We Must Rebuild Stronger Communities
Amid the ongoing relief efforts by the government and various socio-civic organizations for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, Senator Loren Legarda said that local governments are facing the greater challenge of building back better communities.
"I deeply commiserate with families who have lost their loved ones due to Typhoon Yolanda. It is truly heartbreaking to see the devastated communities. As we offer prayers for the victims and all those affected, we hope that this disaster will serve as another lesson to us especially as we rebuild our communities. Affected citizens in many areas in the country immediately need food, clothing, shelter and medicines, but we must now also start addressing the need to rehabilitate affected communities," said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change.
"It will not be enough to build people's lives and communities to where they were before the disaster---we need to rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again; we need to ensure that reconstruction of homes and infrastructure will be in safer ground following sound construction standards; we need to soon restart and create livelihoods; and restore normalcy in people's lives with a stronger sense of hope and confidence for the future," she stressed.
Legarda said that aside from post-disaster damage and loss assessment, there should be a social needs assessment so that there is equal attention to the social needs of affected communities, including for alternative employment and livelihood opportunities.
"We must build back better and more resilient communities. We must prevent disasters and be prepared in the coming of the next natural hazards. We must also ensure effective early warning systems that will facilitate early actions," she said.
The Senator noted that before Typhoon Yolanda made landfall, many local governments have prepared for its coming, enforcing evacuation of many families in barangays located along the coast or are prone to floods and landslides. Despite this, 1,774 individuals were reported dead according to the latest update from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and thousands more are believed to have died especially because of the storm surges that occurred.
"This disaster also tells us about the urgent need to save and care for our environment. It may be a great challenge to relocate all families living in coastal barangays to ensure that they are safe from storm surges during typhoons, but we must act to reduce the risks they face," she said.
Legarda, author of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law (R.A. 10121), explained that aside from early evacuation before typhoons make landfall, coastal barangays must strengthen their natural protection from storm surges through mangrove reforestation and rehabilitation of coastal wetlands, among other initiatives.
Furthermore, existing programs like the National Greening Program and the Integrated Coastal Management Program must be implemented at full speed and parallel efforts from the private sector will be most helpful.
Legarda recently filed Senate Resolution 332 urging LGUs to establish their respective local disaster risk reduction and management offices.
"We must rebuild communities that are better, stronger and more resilient to give our people not only hope for the present, but also confidence in the future. We must free our nation from the exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities every single time natural hazards occur by doing everything in our capacity to prevent disasters," Legarda concluded.