Brace for Big One, prevent Yolanda 2, Filipinos advised

“CARE for the planet, care for our countrymen.”

This, according to administration senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino, should be the mantra of Philippine policymakers when commemorating Earth Day, which, according to the former cabinet official, is a yearly reminder of the need to protect the environment and take concrete steps to prepare our citizens for negative effects of climate change.

“Those two things go hand in hand. We should do what we can to prevent further destruction or degradation of the environment, while at the same time provide our towns and cities with the means to withstand the extreme weather phenomena that accompany climate change,” said Tolentino, who was President Rodrigo Duterte’s pointperson in government response efforts during Typhoon Ompong.

The former mayor and MMDA Chairman said that his experience on the ground reinforced his belief that a national agency was needed to coordinate and spearhead disaster preparedness, especially since not many LGUs are equipped to deal with the threat posed by supertyphoons like Yolanda.

“Dapat matuto na tayo sa problema dati. We have seen what happens when the national government fails to prepare our LGUs for the worst: thousands of lives lost and billions of pesos in damage. A department of disaster resilience will ensure that there is no Yolanda Part 2, and it will also prepare us for the Big One,” stressed Tolentino.

The House of Representatives in October approved the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

Under the meaure, the DDR will be the national government agency responsible for disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, recovery, and rehabilitation.

The bill’s explanatory note says that the new agency “shall be the primary government agency responsible for leading, organizing and managing the national effort to reduce disaster risk, prepare for, and respond to disasters, recover and rehabilitate, and build forward better after the occurrence of disasters.”

The measure also creates a National Disaster Resilience Council (NDRC), which shall serve as the policy advisory body to the Department on disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation.

Tolentino said he was hopeful that the Senate will be able to pass its counterpart measure before the next Congress.

“Kung hindi umabot, ang pagpapasa ng batas na ito ang magiging unang priority ko kung pagpapalain akong makapasok sa Senado.”