Senator Maria Josefa Imelda R. Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate economic affairs committee, today said the lessons from super typhoon ‘’Yolanda’’ may not have been fully taken to heart, as government has yet to complete the rehabilitation of areas that were demolished by one of the world’s fiercest typhoons.
“Thankfully, Bicol and the Southern Tagalog region have learned from Tacloban, Leyte and all the victims of Yolanda, even if seven years late,” Marcos said, citing the early mass evacuation carried out before super typhoon ‘’Rolly’’ struck last week.
The low fatality rate in the aftermath of the recent super typhoon shows that both the authorities and residents in the path of oncoming calamity now know the value of preparation and cooperation, she explained.
Marcos explained that the pre-positioning of rescue equipment and relief goods by better-trained military and police personnel coordinating with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), as well as the non-stop weather updates of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geogphysical and Astronomic Administration (PAGASA), contributed to a successful calamity response.
“But government still hasn’t built back, much less built back better,” Marcos added, urging that rivers be dredged, watersheds and uplands be planted with more trees to prevent siltation downstream, and no-build no-reside zones be more strictly observed.
“The saddest lesson is that victims of Yolanda, like those in the Marawi Siege, the Bohol and Davao earthquakes, and the Zamboanga fire, still haven’t returned to their new homes which remain uninhabitable, nor have they been restored to their community lives and livelihood,” Marcos also said.
Instead of a “very costly” Department of Disaster Management, Marcos has proposed a leaner National Disaster Administration under the Office of the President that would constantly train personnel in search-and-rescue operations, guarantee potable water onsite through water filtration and purification facilities, and employ psychologists with expertise in post-traumatic stress.
“Covid (-19) is no time to be burning a hole in our pockets for five undersecretaries, heavy payrolls, and new buildings to create a new government department,” she explained.
“Even if we had the money, do we have the specialized skilled workers to man a full blown department?” she asked.