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From the Secretary of National Defense and Chairman of NDRRMC PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 September 2010 13:34

One Year After Typhoon Ondoy

Be Prepared for the Unexpected

We mark today the first year since the tragedy brought down upon us by Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana). We continue to mourn the passing of friends and loved ones, rebuild our lives and for some, still hoping for our missing kin to come back.

For the past year, we are still asking ourselves – what really happened and why it happened to us? There could be no acceptable answers to help bring peace in our hearts and minds.

Filipinos, known to be strong and resilient, must move forward, rebuild and seriously consider the lessons learned from what happened. Tragedies choose no one – poor or rich, educated or not, young or old. But these tragedies teach us lessons that we should not take for granted.

As Chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, I am overseeing the preparations for any disaster that may strike us anytime, anywhere across the country – may it be another storm, flooding, volcanic eruption or an earthquake.

We are on-call to respond to our citizenry’s needs and protection. We are there to immediately provide the first and possibly the most essential need for victims and survivors – a sense of hope.

We can all avoid turning into hapless victims by becoming aware and knowledgeable of what to do in times of disasters. We can also prevent if not reduce the impact of last year’s flash floods by preserving our environment.

We are currently implementing practical, scientific ways and means to at least reduce the impact of last year’s tragedy. Mother Nature has its way of expressing her displeasure and we may have to radically adapt to extreme weather conditions.

We must be prepared for the unexpected.

We are in the process of fully implementing the mechanisms of a Disaster Risk Management program, an all encompassing process to shift from our focus on relief, to being prepared for the probable risks.

What does this mean?

Efforts are being undertaken to map out all areas that are at high risk to floods. In the event of a forthcoming severe weather system, our capability to accurately predict its path and impact are being improved. Methods to rapidly communicate warnings and instructions for evacuation are still being developed. Our rescue and even relief assets are being pre-positioned to safety zones that could respond more effectively to the needs of our evacuees.

Our government’s resources are adequate to respond to the minimum requirements, but owing to the unpredictability of nature, there might not be enough to provide relief within the first few hours of any tragedy.

The disaster risk management approach must also entail everyone’s participation. We can all make the first small step in improving our chances to overcome the next natural disaster that may strike us.

Simple acts of being responsible could lead to better and bigger things. One example is respect for our surroundings. Indiscriminate dumping of our trash should be stopped. For every small piece of paper or plastic we throw, this could build up and clog the sewers. Our rivers are there to provide life and natural passage for rain, and not as open space for waste and garbage.

In the event of a severe weather condition, there should be no balancing act between life versus property. Life can never be replaced unlike material things. Knowing your location is a high risk zone, take the first step to evacuate and seek safe harbour.

The very first measure to avoid any disaster lies in everyone of us. Let us all take the first step and ensure the safety of our loved ones and of our selves.

We can all make the difference, and it all starts with every one of us doing his share in mitigating the effects of a disaster.


Last Updated on Thursday, 14 October 2010 14:22

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