SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has vowed to scrutinize budget items on the proposed 2016 national budget that have something to do with disaster risk management to determine if the allotments will lessen the impact of calamities on the people.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on public works, noted that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on its briefer on the 2016 national budget included disaster risk management among the priority areas.
The senator also emphasized the need for the government to prioritize projects that mitigate the effects of climate change, particularly in its 2016 infrastructure budget in order to lessen damage to lives and property during calamities.
He added that the government must provide funding for flood-control structures as well as disaster-resistant classrooms and multi-purpose buildings that could serve as evacuation centers during typhoons or floods.
Citing data from the Office of Civil Defense in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Marcos said 19,032 families or 95,160 individuals were affected by the floods that struck 81 barangays of the towns of Ampatuan, Datu Salibo, Sultan Sa Barongis, Rajah Buayan, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Buluan, Mangudadatu, Pandag, Mamasapano, Paglat, Northern Kabuntalan and Datu Paglas.
The lawmaker noted that while the government cannot build structures that can totally withstand nature’s fury, it could do something to lessen its impact.
The government, he said, should learn from the typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) experience and build structures that could withstand strong winds and provide a safe haven for evacuees when floods occur.
The senator noted that many of those killed by Super Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City perished in classrooms and other buildings that either collapsed or were submerged during a storm surge.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Escudero expressed hope that the bill seeking to modernize the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) will be signed into law this year.
Escudero was referring to Senate Bill 2834 which is set to go through the bicameral conference committee.
“I’m hoping that President Aquino will be able to sign the PAGASA Modernization Bill into law within the year to give long-overdue upgrades to the weather bureau’s equipment, staff pay, research capabilities and communication reach,” said Escudero, one of the principal authors of the bill.
The measure seeks to extend the three-year modernization program for PAGASA to boost the weather bureau’s capabilities in providing timely, accurate and reliable weather, flood, climate monitoring, forecasting and warning services.
“The bill also aims to arrest the brain-drain problem in the agency by increasing the basic pay, allowances and other benefits of its workers,” Escudero added.
It also seeks to enhance regional weather service centers, and develop a “technology-based” and financially self-sufficient” data center as well as improve research and development, promote human resource, and develop ways to integrate disaster management with socioeconomic development planning and water resource management.