“The challenge is how to enhance and harmonize existing knowledge, skills, linkages, resources, strategies and structures.”
By ZOFIA LEAL
NAGA CITY — Members of the business sector, government, media, academe and civil society organizations from the different provinces in Luzon agreed to collaborate in enhancing disaster resilience of communities in the country.
Headed by the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management (A-PAD) Philippines, more than 50 participants attended the event on February 18-20 in Naga City.
In his welcome address, Carlos Padolina, deputy executive director of the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC), highlighted the importance of the activity. CDRC and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation are spearheading the formation of A-PAD Philippines aimed at promoting mutual collaboration and cooperation in disaster risk reduction and emergency response.
“A multi-stakeholder approach is what we need amidst various threats brought by natural and human-induced hazards. At present, both private and public sectors support communities to achieve disaster resilience. The challenge is how to enhance and harmonize existing knowledge, skills, linkages, resources, strategies and structures,” Padolina said.
Veronica Gabaldon, senior program manager of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, shared how business competitors work together as collaborators in terms of disaster management. Gabaldon cited Smart and Globe, both members of the PDRF, as an example.
Gabaldon also shared her thoughts on the inadequate attention given by businesses to prioritize disaster risk reduction and management. The challenge, according to Gabaldon, is how disaster management is seen as a business issue and it should be considered as a strategy to protect the growth potential of countries.
Coming from the academe, Dr. Janette Rodriguez of the Angeles University Foundation explained the integration of ecological education in the curriculum to generate researches that are responsive to current environmental concerns and issues. Aside from research, the university is also working on systematizing these initiatives as part of their community extension.
According to Rodriguez, the AUF’s environmental concerns and policies on sustainable development is integrated in their vision, mission and goals.
The participants coming from the academe recognized the need to integrate disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in the curricula, particularly by having a DRRM subject in all courses. They agreed that the main thrust is to instill DRR in education through “conscientization, building resilience through instilling hope, spreading awareness and building capacities and valuing the world.”
For the part of the CSOs, Cesar Dionido, executive director of the Community Response for Enlightenment, Service and Transformation, explained the role of the sector in disaster management. Dionido shared that CSOs are those working directly with communities in strengthening their capacities and building their resilience.
“NGOs can also ensure greater accountability from the government and other sectors involved in disaster management,” Dionido added.
Representing the local government, Mayor Jeremy Jesus Bueno III of Santa, Ilocos Sur gave a visual presentation on the cost of human life. Quoting the US Environmental Protection Agency, the cost of a human person is at $6.9 million or P276 million. For Standford, the cost is at $129,000 per year of quality life. Bueno explained that given how valuable human lives are, to invest in disaster risk reduction is worth the cost.
Bueno added that a challenge with the government is how to handle situations where one agency contradicts another. For example, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau has issued hazard maps for a particular municipality, highlighting its risks to various natural hazards such as typhoons and landslides. However, given that an area is already identified as a high risk, mining permits are still issued and given to companies, without recognition that it increases the vulnerability of the people and the community.
From the business sector, Gilbert Albero of the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry shared that collaboration between the different sectors is not easy.
“A-PAD is timely as it harnesses collaboration in a multi-sectoral group. It shows that the government, private sector, academe and CSOs can work together for disaster management,” Albero said.
By the end of the conference, a set of resolutions for each sector was agreed upon.
he participants from the CSOs resolved to continue community-based practices and to cooperate with the different sectors.
On March 3, the national launching of A-PAD Philippines will be held on Hotel Jen, Pasay City. The launching will coincide with the International Symposium that will be attended by other A-PAD countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Sri Lanka.