Stop underestimating disasters — Lucy Gomez

Stop underestimating disasters — Lucy Gomez

(The Philippine Star) - November 25, 2020 - 12:00am

ORMOC CITY, Philippines — Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, chairperson of the House committee on disaster resilience, stressed the need for the government to have a national policy on disaster to strengthen its ability to protect its citizens and the economy.

“We have to stop underestimating disasters,” Gomez said when asked about the devastation wrought by Typhoon Ulysses in Luzon.

“We have to keep our eye on the ball. We have to stop underestimating the effects of natural disasters in our country. We need to recognize the gravity of our country’s disaster proneness. We are fourth in the world. And it is not fair to the country to penny-pinch in terms of budget. We have to provide a solution that is commensurate to the problem. We need to elevate our solution to a department level under the leadership of a Cabinet member,” she said.

Gomez is co-author of House Bill 5989 or the proposed Disaster Resilience Act, which seeks to establish the Department of Disaster Resilience.

The bill was approved by the House of Representatives in September but has yet to be passed by the Senate.

”The problem is two-fold. The first part is a force of nature and definitely driven by climate change. Ulysses was the tipping point, being the fourth typhoon in a row to hit the same areas. Our watersheds and basins were already saturated. We were ripe for massive flooding,” Gomez said.

She said the second part of the problem is systemic in nature.

“Government never intends to fail its people, but often good intentions are not enough. We need to come to terms that the disjointed system we are currently using to address natural disasters is just not working as well as we need it to be. When the system is limited, no matter how hard we work, we can really only accomplish so much,” Gomez said.

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