MANILA--Sen. Grace Poe on Wednesday said government must "stop romanticizing resilience" and instead invest time and resources on improving how the Philippines manages rainwater runoff to avoid severe flooding during storm seasons.
The senator's statement came more than a week after consecutive weather disturbances Rolly and Ulysses battered Luzon with heavy rainfall late October and early November.
Hundreds of thousands of residents in Metro Manila, Bicol, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon and others scrambled up their rooftops as floodwaters reached the ceiling of their houses.
“It’s the irony of ironies. Our flooding problem could be the direct solution to our water insecurity problem if we are able to meet the challenges, develop the right tools and implement the necessary changes," Poe said in a statement.
The senator recalled water shortages that occurred in many regions in 2019.
“Kung naalala ninyo last year, kinulang tayo ng tubig. Nagkaroon ng malaking water shortage at marami ang nagreklamo. Ngayon, nagkaroon ng pandemya, wala tayong shortage kasi maraming mga negosyo ang hindi nagbukas. Pero kapag bumalik na tayo sa bagong normal at hindi pa rin tayo handa, mauulit na naman ang kakulangan ng tubig pagdating ng tag-init,” Poe said.
Poe said that Senate Bill 579, which she authored, should provide for the management, control, regulation and utilization of rainwater runoff when it becomes a law.
“We have to capture and store rainwater and utilize it for irrigation, groundwater recharge, firefighting, and other supply purposes. Through this, water is conserved and flooding is mitigated,” she said.
Poe urged government to stop glamorizing resilience and instead ensure public safety by preparing for future calamities through improvement of runoff flow systems, and stopping land conversion and deforestation in rural areas.
“Totoong matatag ang Pilipino, ngunit may mga sakuna na maaaring maiwasan,” she said.
“We can make sure that the water supply problem and future catastrophic flooding incidents will be mitigated if not avoided altogether."
A former University of the Philippines chancellor earlier said Filipino resilience must not be used by politicians to justify inaction during repetitive disasters as this is an insult to the people.
“Maraming may gusto sa term na ‘yan, positive nga daw ‘yan. May mga tutol dito, kasama na ako dito. Noon pa, naiinis ako sa term na ‘yan pati yun assertion na Filipinos are the happiest people on Earth,” said former UP Chancellor Michael Tan. .