"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lessons of Pinatubo eruption not yet fully learned

As the country marks the 18th year of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the Philippines has not fully learned the lessons of Mt. Pinatubo and continues to be vulnerable to natural disasters, Senator Richard Gordon (Ind.) warned.

"Disasters with the magnitude of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption happens only once in a lifetime but every year we experience at least 20 typhoons and other natural disasters. Despite this, our state of disaster preparedness throughout the country is negligible -- if at all present," said Gordon.

Gordon was mayor of Olongapo City when Pinatubo erupted. Instead of giving up in defeat and asking for help, Gordon rallied his people to dig themselves out of the disaster and even went out to help other towns that were similarly smothered by lahar.

The senator, who is now also the Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, stressed that a higher priority must be given to ensuring disaster preparedness in order to lift our people out of poverty. The PNRC, under his leadership, has risen to the forefront of disaster relief and management being fully equipped with disaster rescue trucks, ambulances, water trucks, high capacity hospital tents, and other equipment.

"Even if you have the best education and a better peace and order situation, all will come to naught if your town or city faces destruction from natural disasters every year. Spending billions on calamity relief will be just like throwing money inside a bottomless pit, what we just do is to minimize the effects of typhoons and other natural disasters," said Gordon.

Gordon said that there is a need to revitalize the system for disaster preparedness and mitigation to enhance the country's survival capability against all types of disasters, whether natural or man-made.

The report further said that the impact of natural events, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, would, in coming years, be amplified by rising populations and climate change.

Gordon filed Senate Bill 145 or An Act to Establish Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation Measures which seeks to provide the measures for the government to carry out its responsibilities to alleviate the sufferings of its people, which result from such disasters.

"The bill intends to allow the government to promote general welfare by formulating comprehensive plans and practicable programs for preparations against disasters, including hazard reduction, avoidance and mitigation," he said.

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