Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga has underscored the need for the government to strengthen its assessment of natural hazards and their risks and impacts following the massive devastation brought by severe Tropical Storm Paeng.
“Disaster risk and impact assessment, not just hazard assessment, needs to be sharpened or enhanced,” Loyzaga said after her meeting with officials of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) at their headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City last October 30.
The DENR is a member of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) along with other government, non-government, civil sector and private sector organizations.
In the meeting, Loyzaga said the DENR may help in terms of how best to gather and analyze data that are crucial in the conduct of an effective disaster risk and impact assessment, and to discuss ways to help the affected communities recover from the storm.
On the same day, she joined Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Lagdameo Jr., Department of National Defense officer-in-charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr., Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo, and Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., in an aerial inspection of some areas affected by Paeng.
In its situation report on October 31, the NDRRMC said Paeng had flooded a total of 554 areas across 17 regions, and affected over 1.9 million Filipinos.
Loyzaga expressed the DENR’s commitment to help and collaborate with the OCD in devising an enhanced risk and impact assessment of climate and natural hazards.
She has assigned DENR Undersecretaries Augusto dela Peña and Joselin Marcus Fragada as the focal persons to help the OCD and other concerned government agencies in what needs to be done in the coming days. She likewise directed the undersecretaries to instruct the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to collect site reports of landslides and flooding in certain areas.
Loyzaga also asked them to collaborate with the Philippine Space Agency to access free imagery from Copernicus—a European program for monitoring the Earth—of the Paeng-hit areas, particularly in Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
These imagery analysis data, Loyzaga explained, could help current and future risk reduction and management efforts, and could be used in updating MGB maps and analysis.
Aside from these efforts, Loyzaga emphasized the need to prepare necessary measures ahead of another possible climate hazard or natural disaster.
The DENR Secretary likewise recommended having a “periodic and not only event-based” Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment, and the establishment of an “early warning, early action” system.
“We must have early warning for early action and make the last mile the first mile to avert loss and damage,” Loyzaga pointed out.
She also cited the importance of “impact-based forecasting,” such as the projected rainfall, to enable anticipatory actions and help reduce the impacts of weather- and climate-related events.
“Projected rainfall is very important. We need to transition from ‘what the weather is’ to ‘what the weather will do’ and ‘what the weather will do to whom and what’ and for how long,” Loyzaga said.
A disaster resilience expert and climate change advocate, Loyzaga wants the DENR to craft and implement policies through the lens of climate change and disaster preparedness.
Under her leadership, Loyzaga said the DENR aims to develop acceptable, science-based and risk-informed strategies to conserve and protect the environment and natural resources through partnerships with various government agencies, civil society organizations and advocate, industries, and the academe. ###
- Published: 04 November 2022