HOURS after his inaugural rites, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday held his first Cabinet meeting--televised through the state-owned People's Television--at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room of the Malacañang Palace.

First item in the agenda was the status of the country's disaster risk reduction and management effort.

Before Ricardo Jalad, new head of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, presented his proposals, Duterte recounted his first-hand experience when super typhoon Yolanda wreaked havoc in the Visayas in 2013.

Duterte said he lamented the government's failure to attend to the needs of the typhoon victims.

"What really surprised me, beleaguered me, is when I arrived in Leyte, a military official greeted me. He told me then, 'Mayor, do you have water?' I realized what the problem is: food and water," Duterte said.

"The resources must be positioned nearby, if you can draw the path of the typhoon and deploy the assets of government. What is needed is clean water and food, which needs not to be cooked," he added.

The President then told Jalad to take for consideration such issues in his planned reforms in the agency that he will supervise.

"For me, we have a disaster coming our ways – hopefully not – but this planet is being, I don’t know, punished by God. Climate change is here. We’re warmed so many years ago,” Duterte said. “I’m not condemning anybody. But you may want to take that into factor in.”

Jalad said he was amenable to Duterte’s proposal and vowed to learn from the past experience by intensifying the NDRRMC’s efforts.

“[I will] level up our collective efforts on NDRRMC, especially at this critical time when rainy season sets in, and we are on La Niña status, according to our weather bureau,” he said.

While a framework that compliments the country’s management law was recently developed to serve as a conceptual guide to implement activities across all sectors, Jalad said it has to be improved.

With the onset of La Niña phenomenon, Jalad said preparations must be geared up at all levels from national government agencies to local government units (LGUs).

Jalad then gave recommendations that will focus on the four thematic areas of prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, and rehabilitation.

On prevention and mitigation vice chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, Jalad said early warning system must be strengthened and sustained to effect LGUs’ right response actions.

“The completion of risk assessments for the whole country will focus priority on eastern seaboard and major river basin, which are most prone to flooding and effects of typhoon,” Jalad said. “Planned control projects must also be completed the soonest available time. Earthquake preparedness must also be done,” he added.

On preparedness vice chaired by the Department of Interior and Local Government, he said that conduct of continuous information, education and communication campaign and capacity building, preparedness efforts in consideration of the capacity of the concerned LGU should be stepped up.

Jalad said continuous provision for response unit as well as establishments of needed facilities for response assets should be done.

As for the response area vice chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Jalad proposed to enhance the National Disaster Response Plan for hydro-meteorological hazard and complete the plan for earthquake and tsunami hazards.

“These plans are among the actions, protocols and programs that we have to proactively deal with. All are anchored in scientific information and thorough analysis of exposure and vulnerabilities of specific areas.”

On recovery and rehabilitation vice chaired by the National Economic and Development Authority, Jalad said immediate restoration and improvement of facilities, livelihood and living conditions of disaster-affected communities has to be adhered.

Jalad said he is also mulling to partner up with private and business sectors to ensure the protection of people’s livelihood.

“There is now a need to protect the livelihood of the people, leading to having resilient communities, thus, we need the cooperation and partnership of the private and business sectors. This is one among the possible ways forward and critical milestones for this new administration,” he said.

“We can encourage the private sector, that together, we can pursue undertaking in the following areas: economic risk assessment, business operations continuity, sustainable livelihood, disaster risk financing, logistics and supply chain, communications infrastructure and safer shelter,” he added. (Sunnex)