A June 10, 2013, press release from the Department of Interior and Local Government
Secretary of Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas on Monday/June 10 exhorted government personnel in charge of disaster preparedness to aim for a “zero-casualty” rainy season as he presided at a command conference kicking off observance of the Disaster Preparedness Week.
“Hindi natin maiiwasan ang pagsapit ng bagyo. Ang maiiwasan natin ay ang kapabayaan, ang kahinaan ng paghahanda at pagwawalang bahala. Kailangan nating magbayanihan upang tulungan ang ating mga kababayan sa panahon ng tag-ulan,” Roxas said.
“Hindi lamang sa sinasalubong natin ang buong isang linggong ito hindi lamang sa mga speeches at mga plano kundi may actual na mga drills para lalo pa nating mapaigting ang ating pagsisikap tungo sa pagiging victim-less na typhoon season sa ating bansa,” he said.
Flood drills are scheduled in several high-risk Metro Manila barangays that have sprouted on the banks of six major waterways and are in harm’s way with the onset of the rainy season.
Government agencies estimate that at least 60,000 informal settler-families are living precariously on the banks of six major waterways and are the subject of a three-year relocation program by the government.
More than 15,000 ISFs, he said, are in immediate need of either on-site, near-site or in-city relocation.
Roxas said the DILG has summoned various government agencies to unify efforts and ease the effect of relocating thousands of families along Metro Manila’s waterways before the rains set in.
“Nasa atin ang obligasyon at responsibilidad na paghandaan ito, paghandaan ‘di lamang sa salita, ‘di lamang sa drawing, hindi lamang sa mga action plan na naiiwan sa papel at saka nasa cabinet, pero sa pamamagitan na paghahanda na may aktuwal at kasama ang lubos na pagtulong sa ating mga kababayan,” Roxas said.
The conference marks a significant step to put on firm footing community-based disaster risk reduction and management planning using the help of science, Roxas said.
He asked agency officials and non-government organizations and people’s organizations to relive and strengthen the Bayanihan spirit in achieving the goal of “zero casualty.” The Bayanihan is an old Filipino tradition of communal unity, which means helping one another in times of need.
Present with Roxas during the command conference were DILG Undersecretaries Francisco Fernandez and Regional Director Renato Brion of the DILG-National Capital Region. Also in attendance were officials of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and national government agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology, Pagasa, Phivolcs, Department of Health and Project Noah and various civil society organizations (CSOs).
Brion said among the major steps designed to secure the vulnerable communities against dangers from flooding are an effective early warning system enhanced capacity of local disaster responders and the ISF communities, and a systematic search, rescue and evacuation procedure.
In a press briefing that followed the command conference, Roxas emphasized the importance of disaster preparedness as a way of averting casualties and senseless loss of lives.
“Ang mahalaga sa disaster preparedness, makakakilos tayo ng nararapat bago pa man dumating ang sakuna. Sa ganitong paraan, maiiwasan natin ang pagbubuwis ng buhay. Hindi pwede rito ang bahala na o puwede na. Kailangan tayong laging handa,” he said.