The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is preparing to have a hazard-free and disaster-free year ahead.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje has recommended the construction of structures that can withstand the “new normal” of powerful typhoons, as he reminded the public to learn from the lessons taught by the devastation wrought by the recent strong storms.
Paje likewise urged local government units (LGUs) to strictly abide by the permanent danger zones declared in the geohazard maps and enforce the “no man’s land” rule to save lives.
In a statement, the environment secretary said the public should consider building structures that can withstand strong winds and storm surges spawned by typhoons at the “new normal” rate of 250 to 280 kilometers per hour.
Paje pointed out that typhoons bearing strong winds, high gustiness and intense rainfall were the new normal that the public must prepare against, adding, “We must accept the fact that because of climate change the typhoons have become much stronger and the volume of rainfall has increased tenfold.”
“We therefore recommend that all houses and public buildings to be constructed must have the ability to survive strong winds and storm surges. We have to make sure that new buildings are able to resist the effects of typhoons and floods,” he said.
Paje said that the measure was only one way to prepare for powerful tropical storms in order to avoid death and destruction.
He pointed out that the horrifying experience from recent devastating storms should ring alarm bells for everyone because it is a “new normal that we all must learn to accept.”
The environment secretary also reminded all LGUs to review the geohazard maps, which identify all landslide and flashflood-prone barangays in the country and were prepared by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
He said a thorough study by the LGUs of the geohazard maps would enable them to save lives as they could plan ahead and take steps to mitigate the effects of flashfloods and landslides in their areas.
“LGUs must have the political will to evacuate and, even in the worst scenario, force the evacuation in certain areas or communities that are within permanent danger zones,” Paje said.
The DENR has distributed close to 70,000 copies of the geohazard map to LGUs, including the 42,000 barangays in the country.