MANILA—Vice-President Leni Robredo on Saturday expressed frustration in the aftermath of Typhoon Rolly, saying investment in disaster mitigation remained inadequate.
The national plan for rebuilding destroyed infrastructure and providing aid to affected residents should not be short-term, Robredo said.
“Kung seryoso tayo sa disaster resiliency, disaster mitigation, kailangan talaga mag-invest or otherwise yung mga mahihirap nating kababayan every time na magkakaroon ng ganitong sakuna sila yung [pinakaapektado]” she said in an interview on Teleradyo.
(If we are serious about disaster resiliency and mitigation, we should really invest in these. Otherwise, the poorest Filipinos will suffer the most.)
After being lashed by several strong typhoons in the past, the country seemed still unprepared for natural calamities, she added.
“Hindi talaga tayo, until now, hindi pa rin tayo ganoon kahanda. Marami nang improvement pero hindi pa rin tayo ganoon handa. Kung magre-rebuild tayo ngayon, parang ang dami na nating aral in the past, sana mag-invest na tayo at least sa mga lugar na dinadaanan (ng bagyo),” she said.
(It seems we are still unprepared. We have improved a lot, but it is not enough. If we start rebuilding projects, it looks like we have learned a lot from the past, but I hope we prioritize investing in areas usually hit by strong storms.)
The vice president also hoped that residents in disaster and typhoon-prone areas would be given proper housing so they would no longer have to stay in danger zones.
“Kapag mayroong maayos na housing wala na sila sa danger zone, kapag wala nang maayos na housing nagpupumilit sa danger zone kasi mas malapit sa hanapbuhay,” said Robredo.
(If there is available housing, they are away from the danger zone. If there isn’t any proper housing they are back to the danger zones, because it is closer to their sources of livelihood.)
Super Typhoon Rolly left some P5.8 billion in infrastructure damage in Bicol, Robredo’s home region, after pummeling Luzon last week, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Officials said that as of Tuesday, houses destroyed by Rolly in the region have gone up to 30,384, while homes of more than 79,160 families were partially damaged.
A total of 156,982 residents were displaced in the region, disaster officials said, of whom 133,885 were sent to evacuation centers while the rest temporarily stayed with their relatives and friends.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, making them a dangerous and disruptive part of life in the country.