MANILA, Nov 7 (Mabuhay) — The national government will continue to prioritize efforts to enhance disaster preparedness and response, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Sunday.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (MNS photo)

In his weekly vlog, Marcos underscored the need to improve local preparedness and response capacity to prevent and reduce the impact of disasters on communities.

“Ang disaster response at disaster preparedness natin ay prayoridad ng ating pamahalaan na lalo pang pagandahin o palakasin (Improving and strengthening our disaster response and disaster preparedness is a priority of our government),” he said.

He said collective efforts are necessary to safeguard ecosystems, which will ultimately build climate resilience.

“Kapag may pagkakataon, ay lagi ko bini-bring up ang climate change. Hindi ito biro na. Ito ay totoong-totoo na. Kaya’t hindi makakatulong ang paglalapastangan natin sa ating mga kabundukan, ilog o dagat (Whenever there is an opportunity, I always bring up climate change. It’s not a joke anymore. It’s real. So destroying our mountains, rivers or seas will not help us),” he said.

Marcos said planting trees will help reduce the impacts of climate change because they absorb carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities.

“Malayo ang mararating ng simpleng pagtatanim ng mga puno. Ilang henerasyon ang maisasalba nito mula sa sakuna o trahedya. ‘Yan po ang tungkulin natin, hindi lang sa ating bayan, kundi sa ating kapwa tao (Simply planting trees will go a long way. It will save many generations from disaster or tragedy. That is our duty, not only to our country, but to our fellow human beings),” he added,

He expressed confidence that joint societal efforts will help the country and the world deal better with climate change.

This month, the Philippines will reassert its entitlement to support and assistance to fight climate change during the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which opened at Sharm el-Sheikh City, Egypt on Sunday.

Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, who leads the delegation to the November 6 to 18 event, said the Philippines would again call on developed countries to step up to obligations and “deliver without delay on their commitments on climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building.”

Continued assistance

Marcos likewise gave updates on continuing efforts to assist areas and people affected by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (Nalgae) last week.

Among these are rescue operations by the Philippine Coast Guard; clearing of roads by the Department of Public Works and Highways; distribution of food and other forms of assistance by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Office of Civil Defense; and distribution of seeds and financial loans to farmers by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Marcos, the concurrent DA Secretary, said Paeng wiped out at least PHP1.3 billion worth of agricultural goods.

He recalled visiting disaster-hit areas in Cavite, Maguindanao, and Western Visayas to assess response and relief efforts.

For improvement

However, he also acknowledged some areas of improvement, particularly in terms of aid distribution.

He reiterated the need to do away with bureaucracy in providing assistance to those affected by natural calamities as he recalled the ticketing system imposed by a barangay official in Leyte in the onslaught of Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 to prevent multiple claims of relief goods.

Marcos said it is the government’s job to ensure immediate dispatch of relief goods and make other adjustments for a more efficient distribution.

“Dapat ay abot kaagad. Nasalanta na nga eh. ‘Yan ang mindset na gusto ko sundan ng lahat ng ating ahensya pagdating sa disaster response. Na ang tulong ay wala ng pinipili (We should make distribution faster. That’s the mindset that I want all our agencies to follow when it comes to disaster response. We don’t choose whom to help,” he said.

Marcos said he would continue to strengthen the whole-of-government approach to disaster preparedness and response.

“Ganyan ang pamamahala na ating isinusulong. Mga ahensiya na may kusa at inisyatibo sa kanilang ginagampanang bahagi. ‘Yan po ay isang  gumaganang sistema ng pamamahala at ‘yan po ang patuloy nating hahasain pa (That’s the kind of management we promote: Agencies that have initiatives in their role. That is a working management system and that is what we will continue to improve on),” he said. (MNS)