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National

Aquino orders DENR chief Paje to craft comprehensive plan to curb calamity risks

Mangroves are seen near a coastal community in Paranaque in this April 2013 file photo. President Aquino has directed Environment Secretary Paje to craft a comprehensive program for better protecting coastal communities from floods, storm surges and other calamities, including a massive mangrove planting scheme. BERNARD TESTA, INTERAKSYON.COM

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - President Benigno S. Aquino III has directed Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to devise a comprehensive environment protection program to minimize the impact of storm surges, floodings and calamities following the devastation brought by super-typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan), Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said Sunday.

"Ang pagbulusok ng alon bunsod ng bagyo o storm surge ay nagdulot ng matinding hagupit sa mga libu-libong mamamayang naninirahan sa baybaying-dagat o coastline ng Tacloban City at sa iba pang mga bayan ng Leyte, Samar, at marami pang lugar [The storm surge whipped by the typhoon brought great damage to villages along the coastline of Tacloban and other towns in Samar and Leyte]," Coloma said in an interview aired over government-run radio station DzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

"Dahil dito, inatasan ni Pangulong Aquino si DENR Secretary Ramon Paje na maghanda ng komprehensibong programa ng environment protection bilang tugon sa storm surge at mga peligrong dulot ng bagyo, baha, at iba pang kalamidad [Because of this, President Aquino directed Secretary Paje to prepare a comprehensive program of environment protection in response to risks from storm surges, typhoons, floods and other calamities]," he said.

The President also directed Paje to impose a rule prohibiting the building of commercial and residential structures along the seashore.

"Bahagi sa kautusan ng Pangulo sa DENR ay ang pagtatakda ng mga ‘no build zone’ sa baybaying-dagat para matiyak ang paglipat ng mga dating naninirahan doon sa mga ligtas na resettlement area. Hatid ni bagyong ‘Yolanda’ ang storm surge na tila hindi ganap na napaghandaan dahil sa kakulangan ng pag-unawa at tuwirang karanasan hinggil ditto [Part of the President’s orders is to establish a ‘no-build zone’ along coastlines to ensure the safety of those living in resettlement areas. Yolanda brought storm surges for which, it seems people were not prepared because of their limited understanding of what it really means]," he said.

The Communications Secretary said Yolanda's destruction was similar to what typhoon Sendong (international name Washi) did to the country in late 2011, when hundreds died in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities because they resided near rivers and inland waterways that had been marked as danger zones based on geohazard mapping by the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Coloma said typhoon "Pablo" (Bopha) also caused catastrophic damage in the Philippines. Pablo was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in December, 2012.

"Pablo’s onslaught on Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley taught us about debris flow—the fast, powerful rush of big stones and boulders from the mountainsides, which ran over villages already tagged as at-risk from landslides under the geohazard mapping," he said.

Coloma said part of the President’s order to DENR is the massive, urgent planting of mangrove, the natural protection for coastal areas, with some experts saying mangroves on Tacloban’s coastline could have blunted the impact of the storm surge. Plans for the massive mangrove plantations are now under way, said Coloma, noting that these take five to seven years to grow.

Aquino earlier directed on Thursday the formation of a task group to hasten the transition of relief efforts into the full-scale rehabilitation and rebuilding of the areas damaged by Yolanda.

The task group will focus on five priorities namely, shelter and reconstruction, livelihood and employment, resettlement and psycho-social care, environmental protection, and resource generation and allocation. 

 

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