Sunday, November 17, 2013

Revive Robredo's vision on disaster preparedness

MALOLOS CITY—Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s vision on disaster preparedness must be revived, a Balik-Scientist Program (BSP) awardee said in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda.

It is a very good program and I think it will be the key in community resilience against disaster,” said Engineer Roderick Dela Cruz, a lead dam safety engineer of the Southern California Edison (SCE) in the United States.

A BSP awardee earlier this year, Dela Cruz was referring to the unimplemented Seal of Disaster Preparedness (SDP) for Floods launched by Robredo at least three months before his death in 2012.

The SDP was meant to motivate local government units to put disaster preparedness on top of their priority development agenda.

If implemented, SDP,dela Cruz said could have improved capabilities of local government units in addressing and mitigating impacts of disaster, along with creating greater awareness and conscious on the ranks of community members.

“In the US, the Federal Government have established disaster preparedness program  enjoining not only government units but business corporations as well to comply,” Dela said in an Skype interview yesterday.

The said program, he explained is implemented all year round and government along with members of the business community are given certificate of compliance every year.

“It is very similar to what Robredo would like to achieve,” he said referring to the late secretary’s vision of institutionalizing disaster preparedness for floods.

As a dam safety expert who provided free consultative services to Bulacan Provincial Government and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on the proposed Angat Dam rehabilitation, Dela Cruz highlighted Robredo’s focus on floods.

“I think the late secretary understood that the biggest risk to us Filipinos is water, that’s why he focused SDP on floods,” he said.

He explained that water related disaster risks in the Philippines have manifested in recent calamities.

This includes typhoon induced flood in Metro Manila in 2009, Bulacan from 2011 to 2013, in Mindanao in 2011 and 2012; and more recently in the Visayas which was hit by super typhoon Yolanda.
“We really have to put our heads on how to address water risks,” Dela Cruz noting that even landslide is triggered by heavy rainfall, along with possible dam break.

He said that while earthquake is one of the leading causes of dam break in the world, data showed more cases of dam break due to overtopping caused by heavy rainfall.

Based on data posted on the DILG website, it cited records from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and River Basin Control Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that 1,127 out of 1,634, or 69 percent of cities and municipalities are susceptible to river or flashfloods.

The said data also noted that from 2009 to 2011 alone, more than P55-billion worth of infrastructure and properties were damaged water related risk due to typhoons like Ondoy, Pepeng and Sendong.

It added that around 1,200 people, mostly in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City, also perished during due to flooding caused by typhoon Sendong in 2011.Dino Balabo