MANILA — Human activities should be blamed for changing natural hazard conditions in some areas in the Philippines and not just climate change, a senator said Wednesday, adding that geohazard maps should be updated periodically to preempt worst-case scenarios during strong storms.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said the government should be open to the possibility that man-made activities caused an area, which was previously considered safe, to be hazardous.
“I hasten to add . . . Let us not always blame climate change for the change in the safety of the area, which was once considered as safe. Let us also entertain the idea that human activity caused the change in the nature of the area,” Pimentel said during the Senate hearing on the aftermath of Ulysses flooding.
The senator also noted the importance of updating the government’s geohazard maps every 3 to 5 years depending on the cost.
Meanwhile, Sen. Nancy Binay said geohazard maps should be reviewed amid climate change, saying she doubted such maps have been used by many local government units (LGU) to prepare for natural calamities.
“How comprehensive ba yung geozahgard map natin, lahat ba ng LGUs may geohazard map? In the first place di naman lahat ng LGUs compliant sa submission nila for their land planning so baka isa din ito na dapat nating tingnan,” said Binay.
(Does the LGU have access to geohazard map? Not all LGUs are also compliant with their land planning so this should be checked.)
In 2019, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources told LGUs to use such maps to be ready for storms.
But a copy of a geohazard map, supposedly uploaded by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau on their website, was unavailable when checked by ABS-CBN News at the time this story was posted.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, questioned the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council regarding the relocation sites in the hazard zones, describing it as an “irony.”
The senator said at least 13,000 government resettlement sites remained unoccupied, which could have been used as evacuation centers or permanent houses of Filipinos who lost their homes because of the typhoons.
“Inilikas sila, ni-resettle yun pala hazard zone din yung ni-resettle din nila, pagdating ng bagyo, pagbaha, na-double whammy sila . . . ’Yong mga binahang area sa Rizal noong triple typhoons ay mga resettlement sites na, tinanggal sila sa hazard . . . Nasubok naman sa isa pang hazard,” said Hontiveros.
(They were resettled but they were relocated where they were also affected by typhoons due to flooding. The flooded areas in Rizal, supposedly resettled to a safer place, they were challenged anew by another hazard.)
NDRRMC director Edgard Posadas, however, said he did not have data yet to answer the questions.
Ulysses, the 21st tropical cyclone to hit the country this year and the 8th in the past two months, forced thousands of residents across the country to evacuate, with some scrambling onto rooftops to await rescue amid severe flooding.
Millions of households in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bicol Region and other areas also experienced power outage due to Ulysses.
The typhoon slammed into areas still reeling from Rolly, this year's most powerful typhoon, which killed at least 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes in early November.
WATCH: NIA blames logging, quarrying for massive flooding in Cagayan | ANC
Flooding, disaster resiliency, climate change, human activities, geohazard maps, hazard conditions, resettlement areas, Ulysses flooding, Ulysses PH, Ulysses aftermath, Koko Pimentel, Senate hearing