The Philippines is turning challenges into accomplishments as it continues to deal with natural disasters.
This was the assessment of experts during “A Forum on Understanding Risk and Resilience” held to mark the International Day of Disaster Reduction.
Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro of the National Economic and Development Authority cited the reduction in loss of human lives during recent calamities. “In terms of magnitude, the number of casualties from typhoon Ompong was only 79, unlike in previous strong typhoons where they reached thousands. This gives us a more positive view of how we are building a resilient nation,” she said.
“We have proactively empowered our local government in DRRM (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management) councils through effective policy guidance,” said assistant secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, deputy administrator for administration of the Office of Civil Defense.
Specialists from the government, business, academe and civil society organizations attended the forum organized by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR)’s ARISE Philippines, Department of National Defense, National Resilience Council and SM Prime Holdings to enhance understanding of resilience – conceptually and operationally.
In his opening remarks, Zuellig Family Foundation president Ernesto Garilao said, “We need to shift the way we, as a nation, think about disasters so that, together, we can be better prepared in the future. But to promote a culture of preparedness, we must first understand risk.”
Speakers presented information and possible strategies to respond to possible risks in the future. They suggested adopting, in the face of adversity, lessons from the experiences in Yolanda, the Zamboanga siege and the landslide in Naga, Cebu, highlighting the need for a shared understanding of the risks presented in the communities.
Talking about dangerous phenomena that make up risk, Dr. Rosa Perez, member of the National Panel of Technical Experts, said that the Philippines aimed to minimize risks as much as possible. “We should asses how often these events occur, their effects, how bad they are and what can we do to address the bad effects and harness the good ones,” she said.
The Philippines remains at the top of world risk indices due to several vulnerability factors so the government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, continues to find ways to address effectively the challenges of disasters and build national resilience.