Government must also prepare for calamities, say lawmakers
As if the country’s power woes were not enough, senators on Monday warned that the government must also start gearing up for disasters that would include coastal floods due to climate change and strong earthquakes that experts say may occur at anytime.
Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano pointed to a recent study by the Asian Development Bank warning of rising sea levels around the Philippines.
“A recent study of the ADB… identifies the Philippines as (among) the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change. The country ranks fifth globally in terms of the number of people to be affected by a sea level rise,” he said.
The ADB report titled “Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific” acknowledged that sea level rises were already seriously threatening coastal communities in Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma).
Cayetano said his concern stemmed from the “absence or seeming lack of preparation” on the part of the government “for climate change related calamities in areas where increases in sea levels pose immediate threats to communities.”
As far back as 10 years ago, climate experts had been warning that the melting polar ice could cause sea levels to rise by at least one meter.
“Tropical cyclones and flashfloods that killed and displaced hundreds of thousands in Mindanao and the Visayas last year and previous calamities caused by storms ‘Ondoy’ and ‘Pepeng’ should serve as crucial lessons for the government to learn from,” Cayetano said.
The ADB report recommended that governments invest heavily in urban infrastructure resilient to harsh calamities and basic services such as health, water, sanitation and education for displaced schoolchildren.
Meanwhile, Senator Loren Legarda said government officials must also gear up for a strong earthquake that could strike in Luzon at any time.
Legarda, chair of the Senate climate change committee, said numerous warnings had been aired about how the Marikina fault that runs from the Sierra Madre mountain range in eastern Luzon to Laguna province is “ripe” for another movement.
She noted that experts had warned that structures, especially in Metro Manila, may not be strong enough to withstand a possible magnitude-7 earthquake.
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