Typhoon Haiyan

Senate Bill No. 703: Community Disaster Warehouse Bill

In the past few years, the country has been battered by more than twenty typhoons a year, with an increasing number in the super-typhoon category.

As super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Eastern Visayas, particularly Leyte, last year, Filipinos who were seriously affected needed to contend with an insurmountable shortage of food, clean water, medicine and first aid, and clothing to weather the storm. Supplies weren’t able to reach the survivors immediately due to wrecked ports, airports and roads.

Thus, it is important that every community in the country be equipped and prepared for disasters, and make relief and basic goods as accessible as possible. The first few days after storms or earthquakes hit are crucial in mitigating further tragedies to individuals and families.

Hence, the establishment of community disaster warehouses aims to extend assistance to survivors of calamities, natural or man-made, by ensuring access to basic goods and prime commodities.

It intends for goods sold in these warehouses to be tax-exempt, and ensure that goods in the market would be available to avoid hoarding in affected areas. Furthermore, it seeks to protect citizens from price manipulation during times of crisis.

This intervention is important for the days and weeks right after the calamity to enable people and communities to start rebuilding and normalizing their lives.

Equipping communities with proper mechanism to assist its people during adversity is empowering and inclusive towards a nation that works for all.

In view of the foregoing, approval of this bill is earnestly sought. 


Save the Children First During Disasters – Sen. Bam

With the country lying along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a senator underscored the need for the creation of a national program that will provide protection and assistance to Filipino children displaced during disasters.

“Filipino children are most vulnerable and are worst affected during disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flash floods, which regularly happens in the Philippines every year,” Senator Bam Aquino said in Senate Bill No. 2466.

During the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda last year, Aquino said an estimated six million children were affected, according to data from Save the Children.

“The children who survived the onslaught lost their loved ones and some became orphans while most of them experienced psycho-social trauma, difficulties in evacuation centers, loss of classroom time and access to social protection,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

Aquino said existing policies must be reviewed to give better support to Filipino children, especially during disasters, calamities or in armed conflict to help lessen trauma, restore normalcy quickly and build their resilience better.

“A national program is crucial in the most vulnerable areas of the country, where the experience of prolonged displacement would have a profound impact on the children’s sense of security, physical and emotional well being,” the senator said.

In addition, the bill pushes for child-centered training to disaster first responders, teachers, psychologists and other volunteers in disaster recovery, relief and rehabilitation, with special modules for different stages of children and youth development

“Providing the targeted needs of the Filipino children, specifically during times of distress, ensures the long-term security and health of our nation,” Aquino stressed.

Meanwhile, Save the Children, through country director Ned Olney, welcomed Aquino’s bill, saying it is critical to invest in policies that will help provide adequate support and protection for Filipino children during emergencies.

“Once this bill is passed into law, the Philippines will be the first country in South East Asia with a ‘Children in Emergencies’ law to protect the particular needs of children before, during and after disasters,” Jebb said.

Youth Groups Converge to Create DRR National Network

Senator Bam Aquino aims to create a powerful network of young Filipinos who can provide dependable support during calamities and disasters and beef up the country’s disaster risk reduction (DRR) management program.

Aquino made this pronouncement after the successful staging of a two-day consultation and design thinking workshop, dubbed as “RESCYouth: Responsive, Empowered and Service-Centric Youth,” held at the RAFI Kool Adventure Camp in Balamban, Cebu.

Coming from different parts of the country, participants who attended the event are involved in the different facets of DRR, such as disaster preparation, rescue, relief and rehabilitation.

Others are volunteer firefighters, first responders and peacekeepers in their respective localities, like the Rescue Assistance Peacekeeping Intelligence Detail (RAPID) of Cebu City and the Ormoc City-based Hayag Youth Organization.

RAPID has vast experience in relief and rescue operation. They were one of the first responders in Tacloban City after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda.  They also helped rescue passengers of a passenger vessel that collided with a cargo ship in Cebu last year.

Hayag, for its part, has been teaching swimming, disaster preparedness, first aid and open water safety training to youth.  They have successfully taught their members when no one among them had a major accident when Typhoon Yalanda hit Ormoc City last year.

“We can make this network a powerful network of young Filipinos who can make a difference,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

“May disaster man o wala, naririyan tayo para magtulungan at magsama-sama upang matalo natin iyong pinakamamalaking problema sa ating bayan,” he added.

After calamities and disasters, Aquino hopes the network could address other problems hounding the society, such as hunger, lack of education and poverty.

During the event, about 100 youth participants were able to formulate ways and programs that can help improve the country’s present DRR management schemes.

“We expect participants to help this program expand to their respective organizations and communities so many people will benefit from it,” Aquino said.

Participants also committed to closely coordinate with other organizations to expand their network and widen their knowledge about DRR management.

“We will have these organizations as our focal point of support during disasters,” Aquino said.

During the workshop, several personalities shared their experiences and knowledge in DRR management, including Mayor Leonardo “Sandy” Javier of Javier, Leyte, Gawad Kalinga’s Mark Lawrence Cruz and Mario Urrutia III of Reporter’s Notebook.

GMA-7’s resident meteorologist Nathaniel Cruz, Hapinoy Executive Director TJ Agulto and Voltaire Tupaz of Rappler also imparted their knowledge to the participants.

Learn from P500B Yolanda Loss – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino is pushing for innovative, sustainable and cheaper ways to mitigate devastating impacts of natural disasters and calamities that usually lead to loss of lives, livelihood and income opportunities for businesses.

In his Senate Bill No. 2179 or the National Coastal Greenbelt Act of 2014, Aquino calls for the establishment of 100-meter greenbelts of mangroves and beach forests along coastlines to mitigate the devastating impacts of waves and storm surges.

“The establishment of science-based coastal greenbelts is expected to protect biodiversity, improve fisheries productivity, and enhance the tourism and livelihood potential of the area,” Aquino said.

Aquino made the proposal in the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda that killed thousands of people and left billions of pesos in damages in Eastern Visayas, particularly in Leyte.

“Aside from high number of casualties, the super typhoon also caused the shutdown of businesses and loss of jobs and other livelihood in devastated areas,” Aquino said.

The lawmaker stressed that the cost of establishing coastal greenbelts to protect against storm surge and tsunami would only be a fraction of the damages that could be brought by the yearly battering of typhoons.

“The Philippines is battered by more than 20 typhoons a year, with an increasing number in the super-typhoon category,” Aquino said.

“These could bring as much damage as Yolanda, which inflicted an economic loss of more than P500 billion.”

Compared to the cost of destruction brought by typhoons, Aquino said total valuation of mangroves is estimated at US$14,000-16,000 per hectare, of which about 80 percent is for coastal protection value.

Based on scientific studies, Aquino explained that a 100-meter greenbelt of mangroves could reduce wave height of wind and swell waves by 13-66 percent while storm surge can decrease by 5-50 centimeters per kilometer width of mangroves.

Also, surface wind waves can be reduced by more than 75 percent over one kilometer of mangroves while storm surges can be lessened by 50 percent by 7-kilometer band of mangroves.

Aquino added that coastal forests could reduce the force, depth and velocity of a tsunami, lessening damage to property and reducing loss of life.

“We set aside 130 billion pesos in the 2014 budget for the rehabilitation,” Aquino said.  “We should definitely set aside in the greening of our coastline.”

The bill also mandates the creation of the National Coastal Greenbelt Program shall provide the agency mandates, funding, and general guiding principles for implementing a science-based and cost-effective program.

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