MANILA, Philippines – When Tropical Storm Mario (international codename Fung-Wong) battered Luzon in September, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that most of the 18 casualties were residents of Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, only two casualties were reported from the Bicol Region, and none of them came from Albay, a province that boasts of zero casualties in 18 of the past 20 years.
When asked how a governor-less Metro Manila can achieve the impressive feat of Albay, Governor Joey Salceda said Filipinos should start asking their local government units (LGUs) where funds for disaster risk reduction (DRR) are going.
"I think we should make LGUs accountable already. What are you doing with DRR funds?” he asked during the launch of the #ZeroCasualty campaign on Wednesday, October 8.
He said Albay “follows the logic” of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which mandates that not less than 5% of an LGU’s estimated revenues from regular sources should be set aside as the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.
Salceda noted that "P54 billion ($1.21 billion)* is the total resources of the LGUs in Metro Manila, so you take 5% – P2.5 billion ($55.81 million) for DRR.”
He said for a “small province like Albay,” they were able to mount about P150 million ($3.35 million), so they have the means to respond to disasters. (READ: Salceda: Funds for climate mitigation hard to get)
For instance, the provincial government is already on its 24th day of monitoring Mayon Volcano, which has been placed under Alert Level 3 status since September 15.
Albay was also battered by Typhoon Glenda (international codename Rammasun) in August, but it only took a few hours for the province to enter the recovery phase.
"Baka akala niyo, zero casualty, ganun-ganun lang. Ang taas ng hinihingi nito sa atin (Maybe you think achieving zero casualty is easy. But it demands a lot from us),” he explained.
During disasters, Salcedo said good governance is a must and should be the norm.
"We cannot do it alone. [It’s not only about] the budget for DRR, but also provincial engineering, social work….It should be the whole of government. It should be seamless,” he added. – Rappler.com
*1 $ : P44.79
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.