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PDRF to build disaster operations center

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF), a private sector led disaster recovery and preparedness agency, will build a disaster operations center that will coordinate efforts for relief and recovery during major disasters.

PDRF president Rene “Butch” Meilly, announced the undertaking in an address he gave at a session hosted by Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) at the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai City in Japan’s Miyagi prefecture.

“We’ll be closely working with Undersecretary Alex Pama and the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council),” said Meily. PDRF is co-chaired by Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of telecommunications giant PLDT, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, CEO of Ayala Corp. and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle.

Meily said in disaster preparedness, the private sector must be engaged as full participants, and not just seen as donors.

PDRF is one of the world’s few permanent private sector organizations focused solely on disaster management.

In his speech, Meilly called for a global private sector disaster response network, pre-agreement among all players – government, NGOs, civil society, private sector, international agencies and military – to work together during crisis, like the Japanese concept of “kyoutei.”

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He also emphasized the real power of private sector by providing incentives to invest in disaster areas through economic free trade zone.

“We had a fantastic side event on private sector engagement with a line up of speakers from government and civil society, said IRW Global Resilience lead Syed Shahnawaz Ali.

“Their presentations provided numerous examples of positive private sector engagement, especially in the Philippines where there seems to be fertile ground for collaboration. Well done, the Philippines for showing us the way ahead,” Ali said.

Aside from Meilly, the Philippine delegation at the Sendai conference also had Undersecretary Lesley Cordero of Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR), Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, and Leah Bugatay of IRW Philippines.

Meilly said their proposed center is expected to be located outside Metro Manila – in either Clark or Subic, with a second center in Cebu.

The particular focus of the operations center will be to prepare for the possibility of a major earthquake damaging Metro Manila, aside from other potential disasters such as a super typhoon, major volcanic eruption or a pandemic in any part of the country.

A task force chaired by Zobel, Pangilinan and Tagle, with Ramon del Rosario, CEO of Phinma, and headed by Guillermo “Bill” Luz is leading the effort to construct a stand-alone, 24/7, year-round center with easy access to roads, airport and seaport. It will serve as a focal point for private companies and collaborate with both the government and international agencies.

“The private sector can play a significant role in safeguarding people and this new operations center will help more smoothly coordinate with government and international humanitarian organizations in future disasters,” said Zobel.

“We feel that investments in disaster mitigation and preparedness will both save lives and result in significant economic savings,” Luz added.

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said that climate-related disasters now dominate DRM, with UNISDR head Margareta Wahlström explaining that while 70 percent of deaths are caused by earthquakes, climate-related disasters now result in over 80 percent of all disaster events and contribute to economic losses and population displacement triggered by such events.




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