• Disaster risk insurance proposal needs further study

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    PHILIPPINE officials are not that excited with the proposal of the United Nation (UN) for the country to implement a Disaster risk Financing and Insurance (DRFI) system that would allow the Philippines to have greater financial resilience during disasters, but lawmakers are open to have the system studied further.

    During the “Strengthening Disaster Risk Insurance in the Philippines” forum organized by Senator Loren Legarda, foreign experts and local legislators discussed the merits and possibility of strengthening disaster risk insurance – a relatively new approach to preventing debilitating economic losses from disaster damages.

    The DRFI, currently implemented in countries such as Mexico and Turkey, aims to increase financial response capacity of countries in the aftermath of disasters.

    Senate President Franklin Drilon, said while he is open to the idea there is a need to study the system thoroughly to be able to determine its benefits.

    “Given that our country is frequently visited by typhoons, we must take concrete steps to manage weather and geological related risks, minimize the vulnerability of people and investments, and improve the preparedness capacity of institutions and communities,” Drilon said.

    Given these developments, the Senate leader expressed confidence that the country would be able to arrive at a policy which will enable it to protect itself from the threat posed by disasters.

    Legarda for her part noted that while having a DRFI could help the country a lot it is more economical and efficient to make communities resilient to disasters.

    The senator pointed out that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), in the recently released Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) plan, estimated total damages and losses from typhoon Haiyan at P571 billion or $12.9 billion.

    “Rather than scrambling resources on reactive efforts such as post-disaster relief efforts, we must build resilience so that there will be lesser need for rescue, relief and rehabilitation, and improve our capability to get back on our feet on our own immediately,” she added

    Legarda also said that future DRR strategies in the country should sustain the livelihood and economic activity of those areas affected by disasters – which could be potentially aid by effective disaster risk financing and insurance.

    The forum, which was organized in partnership with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), also tackles the feasibility of proposed changes to national policy, regulatory, and legal framework regarding disaster risk reduction (DRR), and to signify the importance of an overall “paradigm shift” in the country’s handling of its disaster programs.

    Also present in the discussion were Jerry Velasquez, chief of advocacy and outreach for UNISDR; Rowan Douglas, chief executive officer of Capital Science & Policy Practice, Willis Group; and Ernst Rauch, the head of the corporate climate centre of Munich Re, a reinsurance company.  JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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