Why a DRRM Act is Important for Vulnerable Communities in the Philippines

Philippines is considered as one of the countries that is most prone to extreme weather events since 1993 (Kreft and Eckstein, 2013). These extreme weather events include storms, severe weathers, floods, landslides, El Niño, La Niña, and the like. This is triggered by the location of our country – being archipelagic in nature, and situated in the “Pacific Ring of Fire”. Our government under the administration of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, aware of this situation ever since, passed the Presidential Decree No. 1566 on June 11, 1978 which created the National Disaster Coordinating Council. This council helps strengthen the country’s disaster preparedness and recovery from disasters (“P.D. No. 1566,” n.d.). In spite of this effort by the then administration, the P.D. No. 1566 is not enough as it failed to implement projects that would help the Filipinos in risk reduction. This inadequacy led to the passing of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010.

The principles of the DRRM Act or the R.A. 10121 not only focus on the disaster response but as well on the risk reduction schemes of the national government, local government units, civil society organizations, and communities. This act further improved the previous presidential decree as this act was based on the Hyogo Framework of Action whose objectives are to strengthen the capability of the countries and its communities to deal with and recover from disasters and lessen their vulnerability from disasters, man-made or natural. Moreover, the said republic act was enacted by the Senate when the Philippines adopted the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) which was also based on the HFA.

In the DRRM Act, disaster response and disaster risk reduction are further explained creating a better understanding for every sector in the society of what DRRM is. Besides this, other terms such as hazards and exposure are also defined that makes it easy for the Filipinos to distinguish whether the situation they are currently experiencing is already unsafe for them. Vulnerability and capacity, on the other hand, are interpreted as features of the communities that cause complications or ease in disaster management, risk reduction, and rehabilitation after the calamities they experienced.

In Marikina, a city that is easily flooded during typhoons, I have seen one of the most prepared communities when it comes to disasters since the typhoon Ondoy last 2009. After the calamity that affected 239 barangays, the local government initiated several projects and strategies for the disaster awareness and response of the communities within the city such as the application of the earthquake vulnerability action contingency plan which includes conducting earthquake drills in schools and offices, campaigns and seminars that discuss the measures that the residents of the flood-prone areas of Marikina need to do before, during, and after disasters. Also, the government has prepared an evacuation management plan for easy departure of the residents from their houses. But among these schemes, what I found the most remarkable and most effective is the installation of the sirens. This siren warning system alerts the residents whether or not evacuation is already a need for their community.

The DRRM Act, in general, is important to everyone in the Philippines because it serves as guide to a systematic process of responding to disasters, evacuating from disaster prone areas, recovering from disasters, and reducing risk in preparation for the next calamities. This is a framework to having insusceptible people living in an exposed environment.

References:

Kreft, Sönke. (2013). Global Climate Risk Index 2014: Who Suffers Most from Extreme Weather Events? Weather-Related Loss Events in 2012 and 1993 to 2012. Bonn: Germanwatch Nord-Süd Initiative e.V.

P.D. No. 1566. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.lawphil.net/statutes/presdecs/pd1978/pd_1566_1978.html

National Disaster Coordinating Council. (n.d.). Final report on tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng (92). Retrieved from http://www.ndrrmc.gov.ph/attachments/article/92/Narrative_Report_re_Tropical_Storm_Ondoy_(KETSANA)_and_Typhoon_Pepeng_(PARMA)_2009.pdf

Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (2014). NEWSCOOP: NAMRIA provides support to disaster IEC campaign for Marikina City. Retrieved from National Mapping and Resource Information Authority website: http://www.namria.gov.ph/Downloads/Publications/NewsScoop/2014febNo03.pdf

-Czarina Sambale Alviar

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