MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo urged local governments on Wednesday, January 2, to invest in strengthening infrastructure that would withstand and protect residents during disasters.
In an interview with reporters, Robredo said preparations for disasters should include preventive measures, noting these were more valuable than projects that lacked “far-reaching” effects on the lives of residents.
“Iyong infrastructure na kailangang ipatayo, isipin iyong mas pangmatagalan…. Mas mahalaga iyon kaysa doon sa mga maliliit na mga projects na hindi far-reaching iyong effects. Kaya sana iyong pagdedesisyon ng paglalaanan ng pera ng gobyerno, iyong iniisip iyong pangmatagalan na makakatulong sa buhay ng mga residente – hindi lang iyong nakikita, pero iyong nararamdaman talaga ng lahat,” Robredo said during a visit to the funeral of victims in Camarines Sur killed by Tropical Depression Usman.
([We] should think about building infrastructure that would last…. That is more valuable than smaller projects that lack far-reaching effects. When deciding where to allocate government funds, we should think about what would help residents the longest – these may not always be witnessed but it is what will be truly felt by all.)
She added, “Dapat maging lesson ito sa ating lahat, na talagang pag-isipan iyong mga infrastructue na dapat asikasuhin.” (This should be a lesson for us all, we need to think about what infrastructure that is truly needed.)
Among those Robredo referred to were the construction of strong sea walls, flood controls, and protection in mountain slopes.
Heavy rains triggered landslides in several areas in Albay and Camarines Sur with officials retrieving more buried bodies from the areas as search and rescue operations continued. (READ: 3 Bicol provinces under state of calamity due to Usman)
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), there were at least 85 people killed by the tropical depression as of Wednesday.
During a visit to Sitio Igot in Barangay Patitinan, Camarines Sur, Robredo said an engineer from the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) had assessed that several areas where landslides occurred were not safe for prior residence.
She said about 30 people had died due to landslides in the area while some 16 others were missing.
Residents were also warned of the danger of landslides but many did not leave as their livelihood was in the area, said Robredo citing findings from DPWH workers on site.
Because of this, the Vice President said there was also a need to identify hazardous areas in towns and observe strict enforcement over danger zones.
“Siguro ngayon, kailangan puwersahin na hindi na pabalikin, kasi talagang hindi worth ng buhay nila iyong pagpunta,” Robredo said. (We need to convince people to not return [here] because it is not worth their lives.)
Meanwhile, Robredo added the national government should also assist local governments to build stronger infrastructure as this would usually need large amounts of money.
Usman left the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Sunday, December 30. – Rappler.com