NDRRMC chief: Pick leaders who know disaster risks
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - February 1, 2016 - 1:55am

TAGAYTAY CITY, Philippines – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is urging voters to pick candidates in the upcoming elections who have adequate understanding of disaster risks.

NDRRMC Executive Director Alexander Pama said that officials with a good grasp of disaster risks would be able to manage the impact of calamities properly.

“Voters should include in their criteria in selecting candidates those who they believe are well-informed relative to disaster risk reduction management. It will directly affect their lives and livelihood,” Pama said in an interview over the weekend.

“Disaster risk reduction involves saving lives and protecting lives and livelihood. It is a critical aspect of sustaining development,” he added.

Pama believes disaster risk management and climate change should be a forefront issue in the upcoming election.

“The discourse about this issue is not enough. We understand that there are several other important issues but then again, that should give the voters an idea of the priorities of the candidate,” he said.

“I’m not satisfied in the context that it is not openly debated argued or discussed. One, two, or three candidates have ideas on disaster risk reduction but there should be an open debate on this,” he added.

The Philippines is one of the countries most prone to natural disasters because of its geographic location. It is located within the so-called “Ring of Fire” and along the Pacific typhoon belt. About 20 tropical cyclones, five to seven of which are destructive, visit the country per year.

The Philippines is also no stranger to human-induced disasters, which are caused by accidents and security issues like communist insurgency, terrorism, and clan feuds.

Pama said there should be a system that would reward local executives who performed well in disaster risk reduction and punish those who are remiss in their duties. He said the interior department already has a checklist of measures that should be undertaken before, during and after a calamity including preemptive evacuation of residents in hazardous areas and prepositioning of needed equipment.

Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration weather specialist Sharon Arruejo said it would be good to have a law that would require local officials to attend disaster risk reduction seminars.  She lamented that some local officials are not that interested in attending such seminars.

“If that (law) happens, life in the Philippines will be better,” she told journalists during a disaster risk reduction management seminar here.

Arruejo said adequate knowledge of disaster risk management should be a requirement for those seeking electoral posts.

ACIRC ARRUEJO DISASTER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ALEXANDER PAMA NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT COUNCIL PAMA PHILIPPINE ATMOSPHERIC GEOPHYSICAL AND ASTRONOMICAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION REDUCTION RING OF FIRE RISK SHARON ARRUEJO
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