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MANILA, Philippines -- The vulnerability of Japan and the Philippines to the onslaught of severe weather disturbances underscores the importance of always being prepared and having quick response programs in place in order to minimize human casualties and property damage, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. said on Sunday.
Ochoa made the statement in his speech keynoting the commemoration of the first year of the magnitude 9.1 earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
“The March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and Typhoon Sendong in our country underscore the particular vulnerability of our two countries, and stress the importance of disaster readiness and response programs to address such vulnerabilities,” Ochoa said.
He thanked the Japanese government for working with the Philippine government, through its overseas development assistance (ODA), to address these vulnerabilities “to improve our disaster prevention and response capabilities.”
The Executive Secretary said that through the Japanese ODA, the country has been able to upgrade its radar systems, flood warning systems, emergency shelters, and river channel improvement projects.
“Next month, in fact, we will be inaugurating a new radar station in Virac, Catanduanes that was built from the funding provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency,” Ochoa said.
“The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) believes that the completion of this radar station will substantially improve the accuracy of weather forecasts, thus resulting in more timely warnings for our people and helping minimize human casualties and property damage as a result of the severe weather disturbances that constantly batter the country,” he added.
Ochoa commended the Japanese government for further extending assistance to other countries in the region such as the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“We commend Japan for its support for the establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management and of an ASEAN-wide information-sharing network regarding Disaster Management,” Ochoa said.
“It is hoped that collaborations such as these will help countries such as ourselves replicate the level of disaster response readiness that Japan showed last year,” he said.
“In leading the way to find means to mitigate the effects of the natural disasters that will inevitably plague us, Japan has shown us the best strategy in dealing with natural calamities—and that is to work amongst ourselves to implement programs and projects that will help ensure that natural disasters do not become greater tragedies by needlessly claiming more lives,” Ochoa said.