COTABATO CITY—The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) admitted it was maintaining a tight watch over the Philippines as the country had become the third most disaster-prone country among the 173 countries it had been monitoring for possible disasters.
Praveen Agrawal, WFP country director, said because of this ranking, the Philippines had become a priority for assistance intended for calamity-prone and communities still coming to terms with the effects of recent disasters.
But Agrawal said while the WFP received additional
$5.5 million as disaster aid from the United States, it would be a lot better if the effects of such disasters as typhoons, earthquakes and armed violence were reduced.
This, the WFP official said, would be achieved with disaster preparedness training.
While the government, he said, has been conducting disaster preparedness and response trainings, recent events have shown these may not be enough.
“With the advent of the rainy season, the Philippine government may have to strengthen disaster preparedness,” Agrawal said.
He said the risk from typhoons, numbering about 20 each year, was greater in the country’s remote areas.
Last year, up to 2,000 people were estimated to have died following the landfall made by Typhoon “Pablo” in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the government continued to conduct disaster preparedness and response trainings across various communities in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon.
He said aside from preparing Filipinos against typhoons, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which he chairs, had also been conducting earthquake drills.
These earthquake drills had been intensified following the 5.6-magnitude quake that twice struck Mindanao last week.
As this developed, a still undetermined number of people had been displaced anew as floods submerged several areas in North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
Floodwater even stalled traffic flow between Cotabato City and Davao City on Saturday as it reached up to waist level on the national highway linking the two cities.
Ruben Solitario, a resident of Barangay (village) Bulalo in Sultan Kudarat town, said water level started to rise about 10 p.m. on Friday after two days of torrential rains.
Assistant Secretary Pombaen Karon Kader of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said social workers were still evaluating the situation to determine the number of families affected and whether or not there had been casualties. Charlie Señase and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao