Sen. Grace Poe wants to find out if local government units are making full use of the government's geohazard maps that could have spared communities from the impact of natural disasters, if not lessen their vulnerabilities.
Poe visited Albay and Camarines Sur on Thursday to check the condition of the calamity victims and distribute relief goods to the families affected by Tropical Depression Usman last month.
"The hazard maps will be one of our guides to make our communities safe from the possible effects of landslides and flooding. Are the LGUs using them, are they aware of the maps and do they know how to use them?" Poe said.
The maps identified the landslide and flood-prone areas in the country.
"This data should be maximized to strategically mitigate disasters such as landslides. These should be effectively integrated in land use planning, land development, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation," Poe said.
Poe said knowledge of the geohazard maps equips local government units in dealing with the kind of environment they have. She pressed the local governments to train on how to use the maps and cascade the knowledge to the communities.
"Kailangan talaga ay sanayin ang ating mga local government officials na ma-identify iyon (danger zones), lalo na iyong mga kunwari ay katabi ng matarik na bundok na pwedeng mag-landslide o kaya tabi ng ilog," Poe said.
"Itong ilog nga natin dito, Bicol River, itutulak ko na bigyan ng funding para ma-dredge na kasi kaunting ulan ay umaapaw so apektado lahat ng naririto," she added.
Aside from the geohazard mapping, Poe pushed anew for a law that would create the Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Management. Filed as Senate Bill 1735, the measure seeks a new agency which will have the authority in the policy-making, planning, coordination, implementation and evaluation of programs relating to disaster risk reduction and management.
Poe cited the need for enhanced coordination between the national government and local government units to effectively respond to the needs of communities before and after calamities, such as typhoons.
"Dapat talaga aside from the geohazard mapping, magkaroon ng separate department ng disaster resilience; kasi ang nangyari, kunwari dito nagkaroon ng landslide o nagkakaroon ng problemang ganyan, ang tagal bago makakuha ng mga equipment para magkaroon ng rescue operation. 'Pag may Department na ganito, dapat may mga local offices para 'pag mayroong sakuna mabilis ang response time," Poe said.
"Isa pa, 'pag nagkabaha o bagyo, hindi naman pagkatapos ng bagyo ay tapos na ang trabaho, mayroong relocation, may rehabilitation, mayroong patuloy na suporta sa pagkain, sa magsasaka, kailangang may nakatutok diyan," she added.
Photo from Inquirer