DILG declares June 10-16 Disaster Preparedness Week

A June 3, 2013, press release from the Department of Interior and Local Government

With the onset of the rainy season, the Department of the Interior and Local Government has declared June 10-16 as Disaster Preparedness Week.

Undersecretary of the Interior and Local Government Francisco Fernandez, who has responsibility over urban poor and other concerns, said the declaration is intended to focus on government efforts to provide safe, decent, affordable, and permanent relocation to informal settler-families living in danger zones and waterways in Metro Manila.

“This is part of the DILG program, under Secretary Mar Roxas, to put dwellers along river banks, railroad tracks and other danger areas out of harm’s way before the rainy season sets in,” Fernandez said.

In coordination with the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and the ABS-CBN Foundation’s “Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig,” Roxas recently inaugurated the first phase of this rehabilitation program at the 2.9-kilometer Estero de Paco, which will serve as the model for 47 other tributaries of the Pasig River.

Metro Manila is home to more than half a million families living in informal settlements, over 104,000 of which are living in esteros and waterways while the rest are found in various precarious areas such as railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, and other public places like sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds.

An estimated 60,000 of these informal settler-families are scheduled to move to several on-site, near-site and in-city relocation communities over the next three years, or an average of 20,000 ISF per year before President Aquino’s term expires in June 2016.

Stressing the government’s core philosophy, Fernandez said, “there will be no forced relocation.”

Pending the completion of the housing units in the identified relocation sites, Fernandez said the DILG will conduct disaster preparedness activities at the barangay, city or municipal, regional, and national levels. “The goal is zero casualty,” he said.

Various government agencies such as the Metro Manila Development Authority, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, and PAGASA will provide updates necessary for the smooth implementation of the program in the national level.

In the regional level, the DILG will conduct disaster preparedness exercises for ISF communities such as emergency drills, simultaneous review of contingency plans of cities and municipalities, and their waste management program.

It will also coordinate with local councils and stakeholders to ensure effective communication lines among them. DILG-National Capital Region Director Renato Brion has been designated overall coordinator for the said activities.