MANILA - Presidential candidates Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday did not attend a forum on disasters titled "Tindog Tayo," but sent representatives to lay down their plans if elected into office.
During the forum organized by the Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines, composed of civil society organizations and individual advocates, the representatives were either asked a series of questions or delivered a speech, one at a time.
Santiago was represented by her sister, Dr. Nenalyn Defensor, who said the senator hopes to pass a bill seeking the protection of children during emergencies.
She added that if elected, Santiago has "the guts and political will" to implement laws as president, adding that the senator is for climate change adaptation.
Asked via video by a person with disability (PWD) from Davao City regarding the plight of PWDs during disasters, Defensor said Santiago's disaster risk reduction plan includes PWDs who should be evacuated immediately during emergencies.
She also said there should be PWD representation in local disaster risk reduction councils. She said the senator will require disaster responders to be conscious of the needs of PWDs during disasters.
Defensor also said Santiago wants an "independent" disaster risk reduction management agency.
Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, one of the spokespersons for the Daang Matuwid group, represented Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Roxas.
According to Gutierrez, Roxas has "Project Listo" or a checklist on disaster preparedness as a Yolanda offshoot. He said Roxas made sure that local councils were strengthened after Yolanda.
Gutierrez said Roxas is an on-the-ground leader in times of disasters but as president, Roxas will have Cabinet secretaries who will be more on the ground.
He said Roxas offers engineering solutions such as seawalls to displaced fishermen in disaster areas.
Poe, meanwhile, was represented by one of her staff lawyers, Atty. Jing Mendoza, who read a statement from the senator.
Poe believes that the government should be more pro-active than reactive.
Poe also said she will push for the modernization of state weather bureau PAGASA, Phivolcs, and other agencies for better utilization of science and technology.