Typhoon Yolanda

Senate Bill No. 2466: Protection of Children During Natural Disasters and Calamities

As the Philippines lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Filipino children are most vulnerable and are worst affected when disasters strike every year.

When Super Typhoon Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas, an estimated 6 million children were affected last November 2013. The children who survived the onslaught lost their loved ones and some became orphans; most of them experienced psycho-social trauma, difficulties in evacuation centers, loss of classroom time and access to social protection, among others.

It is then imperative to revisit policies that better support and provide services to our Filipino children, specifically during disasters, calamities or in armed conflict areas, to lessen the experienced trauma and bring normalcy back quickly.

Thus, the bill proposes the creation of a national program for the protection of children, especially of displaced children. This is particularly 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, long-term health and nutrition, and access to education.

Moreover, the bill advances the child-centered training to disaster first responders, teachers, psychologists and eventually, other volunteers in disaster recovery, relief and rehabilitation. Modules are to be crafted specifically for the 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. It is then urgent and important that this proposal is realized into fruition.

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





Sen. Bam Eyes Best Practices to Prepare for Calamities, Disasters

With the improved performance of government, private sector and non-government organizations in preparation for super typhoon Ruby, a lawmaker wants to institutionalize best practices and effective tools to ensure readiness for future calamities and disasters.

“We should be learning not only from our mistakes but also from a job well done. We must do it by institutionalizing the best practices and tools implemented by government, LGUs and private sector to prepare for future disasters,” Aquino said.

A lawmaker is calling for an inquiry to assess the impact of government’s action to determine best practices and effective tools used in mitigating the effects of super typhoon Ruby to ensure readiness for future calamities and disasters.

In his Senate Resolution 1063, Senator Bam Aquino stressed the need to assess the impact of government’s actions to determine best practices and effective tools used in the disaster risk and reduction programs of local government units (LGUs).

“The country’s experience with typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) has become key opportunities for learning and for improving disaster preparedness coordination, strategies and practices,” Aquino explained.

“Despite the Filipinos’ vulnerability to typhoons, these experiences demonstrate how the government together with the private sector and the communities stricken by calamities can effectively prepare for and mitigate the adverse effects of disasters,” the senator added.

The inquiry will look into the enhanced inter-agency coordination mechanisms of the national government and the pro-active response of LGUs and private sector on disaster preparedness and mitigation in the country.

“The national government should also be able to identify the appropriate and useful strategies for inter-agency coordination in building community awareness, disaster preparedness planning, and ensuring quick response to help ensure readiness of communities for future disasters,” he added.

Aquino noted that proper coordination among national government agencies, LGUs and private sector contributed to the notable decrease in the number of casualties and loss of property compared to last year’s typhoon Yolanda.

As of latest count, Typhoon Ruby claimed 19 lives and damaged more than P3 billion worth of properties. Typhoon Yolanda, for its part, killed 6,092 people and damaged P36.62 billion worth of properties.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNIDSDR) was impressed with the Philippines’ preparations for typhoon Ruby, which involved the pre-emptive evacuation of at least one million Filipinos in the typhoon’s path.

In addition, the ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh commended the country “for its early warning efforts and disaster preparedness plans, which mitigated losses and damages.”

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.

Community Disaster Warehouses to Combat Hoarding, Price Manipulation – Sen. Bam

Senator Bam Aquino believes the establishment of community disaster warehouses is an effective way to combathoarding, price manipulation and inflation during calamities.

In his Senate Bill No. 2215, Aquino said community disaster warehouses would provide survivors of natural or man-made calamities quick access to affordable basic goods and other prime commodities.

“Community disaster warehouses will ensure that goods in the market would be available to avoid hoarding in affected areas and protect the survivors from price manipulation during times of crisis,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“This measure is important for the days and weeks right after the calamity for communities to be able to smoothly transition to rehabilitation mode and for people to start rebuilding and normalizing their lives,” the senator added.

Aquino stressed that every community in the country must be equipped and prepared for any disaster, including the immediate availability and delivery of basic goods.

“The first few days after storms or earthquakes hit are crucial in mitigating further tragedies to individuals and families,” said Aquino.

The senator added that the measure is important with the rainy season just weeks away.

The need for community disaster warehouses was underscored after super typhoon Yolanda devastated major parts of Eastern Visayas, including Leyte and Samar.

“Yolanda survivors needed to contend with an insurmountable shortage of food, clean water, medicine and first aid, and clothing to weather the storm,” the senator said.


Photo source: Gov.ph Twitter



Let’s Just Work Together to Hasten Rehabilitation! – Sen. Bam to Gov’t Officials

Let’s just work together!

Senator Bam Aquino called on concerned government officials to set aside their differences and work in unison to speed up the government’s rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

Aquino made the pronouncement amid the reported rift between Yolanda rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and two unidentified Cabinet members.

“It’s been six months since Typhoon Yolanda hit, and the rehabilitation should be moving smoothly already.  Let’s get our act together so that the survivors can get back to their normal lives,” said Aquino, Chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“The world is watching. Let us show them how we can come together and help the victims get back on their feet,” he added.

Aquino’s reaction stemmed from Lacson’s claim that two Cabinet members have been ignoring his request for assistance, delaying important rehabilitation projects in Yolanda-devastated areas.

The senator said this should not be the case because Yolanda rehabilitation is one of the government’s priority programs in the next three years.

“We should not prolong the agony of the Yolanda survivors. They lost their loved ones, their property and livelihood so we should not make them suffer even more,” said Aquino.

Aquino also urged concerned government agencies to submit their respective formal plans for affected areas to hasten the finalization of a master plan that will set the timetable and direction of the rehabilitation.

The Senate has approved a P14.6-billion supplemental budget for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas hit by typhoon Yolanda.

Recently, Aquino called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to closely monitor the prices of construction materials in Eastern Visayas after receiving reports of overpricing in areas devastated by Yolanda.

The DTI acted with haste, saying it will “double or triple” the frequency of monitoring and punish establishments selling overpriced construction materials.


Photo source: weather.com (http://tinyurl.com/pjzudru)

Sen. Bam to DTI: Look into Overpricing of Construction Materials in Yolanda-hit Areas

Senator Bam Aquino has called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to intensify monitoring on cost of construction materials in Eastern Visayas after receiving reports of overpricing in areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

“The DTI should double its monitoring efforts because some unscrupulous businessmen are taking advantage of the situation in Tacloban and nearby areas,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

“We should punish these merciless traders for preying on our countrymen who have already suffered much because of the typhoon,” he added.

Aquino said traders should not use supply as issue with routes already passable and shipping operations now back to normal.

“The super typhoon happened four months ago. Delivery delays cannot be used as reason since all the routes going to Tacloban and other areas have opened,” Aquino said.

Aquino received reports from concerned citizens in Tacloban and nearby areas that some hardware stores sell ¼-inch plywood between P370 to P400, from its previous price of P290 to P300.

“From its old price of P550 per cubic meter, sand is being sold at P800 per cubic meter while gravel is now at P1,350 per cubic meter, P400 higher than its previous cost,” the senator said.

Aquino also revealed that price of hollow blocks doubled from P9 to P18 while ply board is now P965, from P845 to P900.

The senator said Portland cement, which usually costs around P222, now sells at P235, tie wire at P1,475 from P1,190 and 10-millimeter steel bar at P130 from P123.

“Even those hardware stores from nearby areas which were not affected by the typhoon also sell overpriced construction materials,” Aquino said.

The senator added that Tacloban residents opt to travel more than 100 kilometers to Ormoc City where construction materials are cheaper.


Photo source: Rappler.com

Sen. Bam Aquino Pushes for 24-Hour Disaster Response

Senator Bam Aquino pushed for a maximum response time of 24 hours following natural calamities, saying that it “currently takes three to four days for the national government to respond [to disasters].”

He likewise called for a “higher level of preparedness… [from government],” as he spoke at the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, held at the Senate on Monday morning.

“What do we need to increase efficiency and capacity? Regional relief depots? Better search and rescue vehicles and equipment? Pre-positioned military and police? Disaster-proof evacuation centers? Given that climate change is upon us and disasters are sure to hit the country again next year, even our measures for assessing disaster preparedness need to change.”

“The best way to honor our countrymen who had passed away is to make sure that we are more responsive the next time disaster strikes,” Sen. Aquino stressed.

The senator also indicated his support for moves to create a department for disaster relief and rehabilitation, replacing the existing National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

He also emphasized that greater focus needs to be placed on ensuring tighter coordination between the national government and local government units.

“Miscommunication severely hampers our ability to respond quickly to crisis situations. If we work more closely together, we will be better able to respond to the needs on the ground,” Sen. Aquino pointed out.


Sen. Aquino also pushed for greater support for rehabilitation efforts of the private sector, citing that “markets are alive [and] vibrant” even in disaster-stricken towns.

While on a ground assessment in Guiuan in Easter Samar and in Tacloban City, Palo, and Tanauan in Leyte on Sunday, the senator observed that most entrepreneurs have been relying on loan sharks—what is locally known as“five-six”—to finance their rehabilitation efforts.

“Equally important in rebuilding public infrastructure is seeing how we can rehabilitate the private sector. We all know that ‘five-six’ bears excessively high interest rates. We need to explore long-term loans, low-interest loans, microfinance loans to help micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs get back on their feet.”

He cited a positive observation by a representative from the international organization UNICEF, which said that it took the Philippines only “ten to fifteen days to begin rebuilding” after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda, versus the eight weeks that it took markets to open in other countries that were severely hit by natural disasters.

“The Filipino spirit is indeed resilient. As government, we need to honor that spirit by providing more support to our countrymen.”

Sen. Bam: Help Agri Workers Affected by Storm

Senator Bam Aquino calls on the government to provide temporary livelihood to agriculture workers, especially coconut farmers, who lost their main source of income to super typhoon Yolanda.

The senator said majority of workers who lost their livelihood are involved in agriculture, which is the primary source of income in Leyte and other provinces destroyed by the storm.

“Around four million workers lost their jobs because of Yolanda. More than half of them are fishermen, farmers and coconut workers,” Sen. Aquino said.

The coconut industry suffered the biggest devastation as more than 2.5 million coconut trees were brought down in Eastern Samar and Leyte.

“Even if there were some trees left, our coconut farmers will still not be able to benefit from them immediately. According to studies, coconut trees that were shaken up by a storm will bear fruit after one year,” the senator explained.

Sen. Aquino added that rice farmers were also affected by the storm as Yolanda hit during the start of the planting season, leaving them with nothing for the harvest season.

“Our fishermen also suffered heavy losses because their fishing boats and other equipment were damaged by the storm,” he added.

With the widespread devastation, Sen. Aquino said it will take some time for the agriculture sector to fully recover.

In the meantime, the senator underscores the need to give agriculture workers other sources of income to help them and their families survive.

One of the possible forms of assistance the government can give them is to engage them in livelihood opportunities immediately.

Aside from this, the government can give them the needed capital to start up some micro enterprises.

The senator added that the government can prioritize farm workers in “food-for-work” efforts, to help them more quickly get back on their feet.

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