Government told: Craft policies to adapt to climate change

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


DUE to climate change, weather conditions in Mindanao have become dangerous and the government needs to adapt to these changes through its policies, a lawmaker said.

“What is abnormal before is now normal in Mindanao,” said Bayan Muna Party List Representative Carlos Zarate, referring to the ugly weather conditions in the island.

Zarate added that previously, tropical storms rarely visit the island but recently, they have become frequent.

He said the time for the government to adjust its policies on mining, logging and monocrop plantations in hinterland communities came a long time ago even before Tropical Storm Sendong struck parts of Mindanao on December 17, 2011.

“Our state policies are not separated from the disasters brought about by natural calamities because (like mining and logging policies), it aggravates its effects,” said Zarate.

Allan Porcadilla, administrative and training officer of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Office, said the effects of climate change have been aggravated because of illegal mining and logging.

Porcadilla said climate change is normal and has been happening even before.

“But even without climate change, if you (cut) trees and do mining indiscriminately, then you will surely experience floods and landslides,” said Porcadilla.

Knee-jerk

“The response of the government on calamities should (be) comprehensive instead of ‘knee-jerks,’” said Zarate.

He added that the National Government should provide guidance to the local government units regarding the changes on its policies.

On the other hand, Zarate said the administration of President Benigno Aquino III should also heed the reports and calls of the local government units.

Porcadilla added that “reactive” management toward disasters is not effective.

Reactive management, Porcadilla said, happens when the government responds to disasters without planning about preemptive measures to secure the population.

He added that disaster management should be proactive -- measures are done even before calamities so that active responses are lesser.

“When we use proactive response through preparation, our active response will be lesser,” said Porcadilla.

Policies

Zarate said relocating the residents in areas that are prone to disasters, or “danger zones,” should be a priority of the present administration.

He said informal settlers should not be blamed because they are living in danger zones. Instead, Zarate said, they should be relocated in areas where their livelihood is not jeopardized.

“Before relocation, the government must ensure that they have enough livelihood so they can live decently,” said Zarate.

Porcadilla added the local government in Cagayan de Oro is planning on giving decent abode to informal settlers who are living in danger zones.

He said securing the informal settlers from the danger zones is included in the eight-point agenda in the administration of Mayor Oscar Moreno.

“The local government is doing its best to secure the population from danger zones,” said Porcadilla.

Urgent task

Since moving all the informal settlers in danger zones is presently impossible, Zarate said evacuation is the safest option as of now.

He said it is important to put up evacuation centers in every two villages -- formal evacuation areas that are safe from flashfloods, landslides and storm surge.

Zarate said since Mindanao experienced cyclones and bad weather conditions, it is important for the island to establish relocation sites and set standard materials for the government projects in the area.

“We are proposing a bill in Congress that sets a permanent evacuation sites in every locality,” said Zarate.

He said relocation sites should be rationalized by the local government knowing the present weather conditions of the country.

He said the government cannot deny that it does not have budget for permanent evacuation sites because the people know it has funds for this.

As to where the budget for this endeavor would come from, Zarate said: “That’s the challenge of the local government. They should allocate funds for the safety of the people because it’s a national concern.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 22, 2014.

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