DAVAO CITY: A consortium of international aid agencies is asking the Aquino administration to learn from the destruction brought by Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) five years ago as the government is set to review the 2010 Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act or the Republic Act 10121.
The SURGE consortium of Christian Aid, Handicap International, Oxfam and Plan International, said the Philippines must assess its disaster and climate change policies and programs, taking into considerations the “immense havoc caused by Ondoy.”
The consortium said the Philippine government’s review of RA 10121is an opportunity to introduce changes in policies and practices towards inclusive community-based disaster response “where the marginalized and those who have been rendered vulnerable by disasters are able to participate meaningfully in the process of building back better”.
The consortium said Ondoy, which hit the Philippines in 2009, resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and affected 10 million people, 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.”
“Memories of Ondoy recently re-emerged because of the strength of the recent Typhoon Mario,” said the European Union-funded consortium. “The latter somehow elicited comparisons in terms of the quality of response.”
It said that there had been improvements in the government’s response to disasters, but significant gaps must be addressed such as 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.
The government, according to the consortium, 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.”