Press Release
October 13, 2019

De Lima urges gov't, Filipino public to promote disaster risk awareness and reduction

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the government and the citizenry to exert concerted effort in promoting a culture of awareness and preparedness in times of natural calamities or disasters to build a more disaster-resilient society that could help Filipino families survive during emergencies.

In her message on the International Day for Disaster Risk Management today, De Lima also underscored the importance of adopting a climate emergency response that ensures promotion of human rights.

"For the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction this year, with the theme that focuses on mitigating damage to critical infrastructures and disruption of services, each and every one of us is called upon to promote awareness, preparedness and resilience on calamities in order to lessen the risk and exposure to harm," she said.

"Clearly, we need to adopt best practices and instill a culture of vigilance. The worst of natural disasters are bound to happen, but we need not be caught unaware or unprepared. We also need to guarantee that our climate emergency response involves measures that respect, promote, and uphold human rights standards," she added.

Held every 13 Oct. 13 of every year, the International Day for Disaster Risk Management celebrates "how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face."

The international celebration started in 1989 after the United Nations General Assembly called for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. These include disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, among others.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, urged the Philippine government to invest in climate-resilient infrastructures to spare its people from grave suffering, as well as to save on economic costs, and help save their properties in times of disasters.

"Should something as terrifying as a 7.2-magnitude earthquake once again hit highly urbanized and congested cities, like what happened in Bohol in 2013, our government should be able to ensure unimpeded access to food, water, and electricity. It should also be equipped to immediately restore mobile connectivity and transportation services," she said.

De Lima maintained that the government should ensure preparedness in times of natural calamities and disaster, considering that the Philippines is among the world's most vulnerable when it comes to natural disaster.

"Filipinos are all too familiar with the devastating impact of large-scale destructions and loss of lives," she noted.

De Lima recalled that the nation marked the 10th year since tropical storm Ondoy flooded Metro Manila, killing almost 500 people and affecting almost five million, last September while the nation is expected to mark the sixth year since 6,300 Filipinos were killed due to Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons in history, in November.

"This painful event was a lesson not only for us, but for the entire world, that climate change is indeed happening. Its harmful effects causing human misery is now the new normal," she said.

Amid these challenges involving disasters and natural calamities, De Lima recognized the voices of youth that are becoming increasingly heard in their appeal for urgent and global action, as exemplified by Greta Thunberg of Sweden and other young leaders.

"Indeed, it is our shared responsibility to bequeath to our future generations not just a chance at survival, but a sustainable and quality way of living," she said.

In the 17th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2013 seeking to give due protection to licensed or accredited volunteers from liability in the performance of their selfless duties in times of disaster or emergency situations.

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