As Disasters Mount, Groups Call on Aquino to Address Urgent Need to Prepare The Country

In the meantime, pre-emptive evacuation was implemented in some barangays in Palo, Leyte and Samar due to impending flashfloods. Other residents were also alerted for force evacuation if weather conditions continue to worsen. Earlier, a flashflood occurred in Bohol Province and the province was declared Under State of Calamity.

Late in 2009, the devastating impact of supertyphoons Ondoy and Pepeng saw the previous government under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Arroyo panicking for additional calamity funds. It was exposed that Office of the President used up the P800-million ($18.363 million) emergency fund originally intended for calamities and disasters for Arroyo’s extensive foreign travels.

The House of Representatives was forced to approve a supplemental budget so that an additional P12 million ($275 thousand) calamity fund, which could be released for relief and rehabilitation efforts in Luzon, Visayas and Metro Manila areas widely affected by the super typhoons.

In the meantime, private and international institutions also opened their coffers and donated millions in humanitarian assistance for the victims. The Department of Foreign Affairs said that among those who gave the most substantial donations were the European Commission and European Union ( 23 million euros or approximately P1.33 billion); various bilateral partners $103.31 million or P4.8 billion); and the United Nations revised flash appeal for almost $143.77 million. Regarding the last, almost 23.6 percent of the donation was already previously given, as the Philippines had earlier received USD33.96 million plus additional $16 million in donations.

As of this writing, no record of a comprehensive accounting of international donations has been released by the Aquino government. It only said that 70 percent of the P2 billion ($45.9 million) calamity fund earmarked for 2010 was already spent by the previous administration, and the allocations for 2011 are decidedly insufficient.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abegail Valte Valte said in a recent radio interview that the government has very limited resources at this time but she said she hopes they can get modernization budget in the future.

This, however did not stop President Aquino from offering Japan $14 million in aid. The offer was reportedly thumbed down by the Japanese government. Aquino was said to have offered the aid during a discussion with Japan ambassador to the Philippines Makoto Katsura immediately following the earthquake that hit Tokyo last week.

Strengthen Communities Against Disasters

According to the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO), an estimated 97 percent of natural disaster-related deaths occur in developing countries and these countries bear the heaviest the burden in terms of livelihoods lost.

“It is often the poorest communities that suffer the most as they tend to live in greater density in badly-built housing on land at risk. They possess limited resources to deal with the risks they face. Most hazards are sudden-onset events and take people by surprise. Although it is impossible to prevent hazards, the impact of the disasters can be limited through the preparedness of the populations and investing in effective response-mechanisms at local, regional and national level,” it said.

For their part, local disaster relief groups like the CDRC said that there were priority needs of the Philippines in disaster risk reduction. Mitigation strategies, Escandor said, should be emphasized.

“Both structural and non-structural approaches should be adopted to lessen the impact of disasters. Hazard mapping must also be done for priority areas. In making hazard maps of local scale, it is best that community and scientific data are combined. Results of hazard mapping should be properly disseminated to population at risk,” Escandor said.
Escandor also said communication at the community level should also be strengthened to increase awareness and knowledge on the signs of incoming disasters.

CDRC also said there should be a review of the policy implication of existing government disaster risk reduction programs as well as streamlining and enhancing strategies on disaster management. It also said that behavior modification in the public is necessary to lessen vulnerability and strengthen resiliency.

Escandor said for DRR efforts to be effective, there is a need to strengthen the capacities of vulnerable sectors, especially the poor and the marginalized, to address the adverse effects of disasters.
“CDRC does this through awareness-raising, trainings on community-based disaster risk reduction and management, disaster preparedness, sustainable agriculture and alternative sources of living, formation of disaster preparedness committees, tree planting, and backyard gardening, among others,” she said.

Escandor said the CDRC and its local partners would continue to assist families affected by the floods and landslides, particularly the most vulnerable sectors. It said that the response is aimed at helping the victims cope up with the situation and prevent the further deterioration of their condition.

It said that donations may be sent through its offices in 72-A Times St., West Triangle Homes, Quezon City. Concerned individuals and donors can reach them at (632) 929-9822 / (632) 929-9820. Donations may also be sent through their bank accounts. (

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