Five years since Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) struck the country we, the SURGE consortium, ask the Philippine government to assess the policies, programs and projects which were meant to effectively address disasters and climate change, in the context of the sunset review of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010 (Republic Act 10121).
The immense havoc caused by Ondoy – more than 1,000 deaths, more than US$4 billion (P175.6 billion) economic losses and more than 10 million people displaced and affected – has led to a rethinking of disasters: from those which require mere rescue and relief to those which require mapping of risks, prevention and mitigation of losses and climate change adaptation. It gave birth to RA 10121 and the People’s Survival Fund (RA 10174).
Memories of Ondoy recently re-emerged because of the strength of the recent Typhoon Mario (Fung-wong). The latter somehow elicited comparisons in terms of the quality of response. While there has been improvement in the government’s response to disasters, significant gaps remain with regard to the implementation of mechanisms which could have allowed local government units (LGUs) to develop their own disaster risk reduction (DRR) plans, budgets and offices; strengthen coordination among regional and provincial DRR offices; develop their communities’ capacity to make sense of scientific information from national agencies and ensure the meaningful participation of women, children, persons with disabilities, older persons, indigenous and remote communities in DRR planning and implementation.
For us to learn the lessons from Ondoy, the government must seriously take into account the vulnerabilities of individuals and communities in terms of poverty, gender, age, disability, land ownership, livelihood sources, geographical location, ethnicity, among others; the aggravating impacts of disasters and the conditions through which these vulnerabilities could be addressed and eliminated.
Such mapping of vulnerabilities must be reflected by now in the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) for Yolanda-affected areas,which was prepared by the office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) and is awaiting approval from the President. Moreover, the capacity of communities must be strengthened in preparing for and responding to disasters while increasing the coordination among communities, LGUs, and DRR-related agencies. DRR and climate change adaptation must be comprehensively addressed in any over-arching development plan.
We likewise urge the government to approve the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the People’s Survival Fund and make the mandated P1-billion allotment available for climate change adaptation initiatives under the forthcoming national budget.
The upcoming sunset review of RA10121 is an opportunity to introduce changes in policies and practices toward inclusive community-based DRR (ICBDRR), where the marginalized and those who have been rendered vulnerable by disasters are able to participate meaningfully in the process of building back better. It is an opportunity to make the most out of the collective experience and memory of both Ondoy and Yolanda.
Hence, we ask the Congress, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and other relevant branches and agencies of government to ensure an inclusive and open mechanism for civil society participation in this process. – Rappler.com
SURGE is a consortium of Christian Aid, Handicap International, Oxfam and Plan International, and is funded by the European Union humanitarian aid.
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