Legarda Presses for Stronger Disaster-Resiliency Efforts in Mindanao as More Flashfloods, Landslides Continue to Threaten the Region

Senator Loren Legarda today called on the national government and local government units (LGUs) in Mindanao to include disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) in their priority programs in the Southern Region of the country as they continue to carry out anti-insurgency efforts.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that aside from the lingering insurgency problem, Mindanao today is faced with a greater and more unpredictable threat—natural hazards made harsher and more devastating by climate change.

“While the government cannot put aside its anti-insurgency programs in Mindanao, it cannot ignore the pressing need to give equal attention on DRR and CCA. PAGASA continues to warn of scattered rain showers and thunderstorms that could trigger flashfloods and landslides in the region,” she explained.

She added that soldiers assigned in the region have even shifted to post-disaster operations for citizens affected by Tropical Storm Sendong, citing media reports that immediately after the onslaught of the storm, two army divisions or about 20,000 soldiers based in Mindanao have led the rescue and relief work.

Army personnel were also deployed for rescue and retrieval operations when a landslide occurred in Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley last January 5.

“The recent flashfloods and landslides in Mindanao have claimed thousands of lives and displaced more families. The Sendong death toll reached 1,257 and affected more than a million individuals, while the landslide in Compostela Valley killed at least 42 persons,” Legarda said.

“The gravity and frequency of these disasters demand immediate attention and appropriate action from the national government and LGUs. Our disaster risk reduction and management system needs to be more proactive, coherent, and effective. We must realize that every decision we make with regard to DRR and CCA is crucial to our survival. We must plan carefully but swiftly,” Legarda concluded.***