"Resilience must come from the government."
Super typhoon “Rolly” left thousands of families without roofs. The province of Quezon was not spared from its battering rains and destructive winds. However, we were able to mitigate its impact with our pre-emptive emergency response. Our local officials, together with our police and provincial and local disaster officials, went house-to-house to evacuate those living in low-lying and flood-prone areas, and those near bodies of water. We were able to send food packs to municipalities before the typhoon made its landfall. The provincial and local government units were on red alert, monitoring the situation in every municipality.
While disaster preparedness and mitigation strategies in the country have not been exactly perfected, experience continually teaches us what we can expect and where to improve. With time, we have learned to estimate how much damage a typhoon may potentially cause and what measures we need to undertake at different levels of preparation. By this time, we know that disaster preparedness does not only entail evacuation and provision of basic commodities in times of emergencies, as it is multi-dimensional. It requires evaluation of socioeconomic conditions such as access to basic services and information, healthcare facilities, transportation, safe drinking water, broadcast media, and telecommunications. It also involves ensuring availability, accessibility, and adequacy of safe and open spaces and calamity-proof infrastructures in each locality. It also covers the training, capacity, and competence of each local government unit in responding timely to emergency situations.
Our experience with “Rolly” shows how much we have improved over the years, but it also reveals the areas where we need to have better foresight. While Filipinos are known to be resilient, we cannot entirely depend on people’s resilience to respond and adapt to crisis situations. The government is still the principal entity accountable to ensure that lives are protected and damages to property are prevented.
In this regard, I would like to call on the national government to implement a more streamlined allocation and distribution of resources and assistance to the local government units. We are not undermining the capability of the national government agencies. However, local governments have a wider and more exhaustive view of the needs of their localities in times of calamities.
I ask that the national government consider simplifying processes by allowing resources to be readily and directly available at the LGU level to ensure that LGUs can easily mobilize aid and resources whenever necessary. In this way, we can cut red tape and afford the victims of calamities prompt assistance and intervention, especially in the far-flung areas.
A resilient people makes challenges easier to overcome. However, resilience must start from the government. Building a resilient nation requires that the government should be at the forefront of the transformation. Who else better to empower than our local government units?