Press Release
June 8, 2015

Senate seeks youth empowerment in disaster risk reduction efforts

The Senate passed on third and final reading today amendments to the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act, which aims to mobilize the support of young Filipinos during calamities and disasters, and raise youth participation in the country's disaster risk reduction program.

Senator Paolo Benigno 'Bam' Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth and sponsor of Senate Bill 2789, said that with the passage of the Responsive, Empowered and Service-Centric Youth or RESCYouth Act of 2015, young Filipinos everywhere are expected to be more involved in disaster risk reduction and mitigation efforts.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said the measure represents the Senate's recognition of "the crucial and formative role of young Filipino men and women in making risk preparedness and disaster resiliency a part of the Filipino culture, thus making them integral members of disaster -coordinating programs in local communities."

According to Aquino, the RESCYouth Act will include the National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman as one of the members in the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC). Youth representatives will also be involved in the regional, provincial, city, municipal, and barangay disaster coordinating councils.

"The youth is playing a vital role in our pursuit for overall disaster resilience. They have served as a beacon of hope and catalyst of action," Aquino said.

He said young Filipinos were dedicating "their time, energy, and skills to build a strong and resilient Philippines ready to take on overwhelming tragedies."

Aquino explained that the Philippines was one of the most vulnerable nations to the threat of climate change: "As we are in the receiving end of vicious typhoons, brutal storm surges, earthquakes, and other adverse calamities, we have taken steps and have made leaps in preparing for such occasions."

He cited the 2013 Climate Risk Index which ranked the Philippines as the top country affected by extreme weather events with over $24 billion in losses.

"With impending disasters in the country's future, it is important to move from post-disaster relief to proactive disaster preparedness," Aquino said.

He said youth organizations have been creating innovative solutions to help communities become more resilient and adaptive to the changing climate, leading schools to become depositories of donations and centers for packing and deployment of relief goods, and using the social media for information, tips and news monitoring during typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic movements.

"There is nothing to lose, but so much to gain from engaging the youth in our quest to build a Philippines that is capable of efficiently responding to natural calamities and able to reduce its negative impact on society. It is in trusting each other's abilities and uniting all sectors, including the youth, that we can develop a Philippines that is well informed, incredibly prepared, and exceptionally resilient to disaster," Aquino said. (Apple Buenaventura)

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