By David Santos
More than six months since Typhoon Pablo battered Eastern Mindanao, the lessons from the tragedy have remained painfully clear.
With the onset of the rainy season, those lessons have not been lost on disaster officials who are working double time to better prepare communities.
Officials of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are doing the rounds to lay out government's disaster-response preparations.
Local government units, especially those in flood and landslide-prone areas, are urged to take tougher measures to ease the effects of extreme weather.
Under a comprehensive land-use plan, for example, local officials will have to identify communities vulnerable to disasters and ban the construction of any structure in these danger zones, including homes.
Even traditional evacuation centers, like government buildings, have to go through risk assessment.
That's an essential precaution, as it became apparent during the height of Typhoon Pablo when a number of people, including children, were killed when the school that served as their makeshift shelter collapsed.
"it will not happen again, because of the hazard mappings we have undertaken," Undersecretary Ed del Rosario, executive director of the NDRRMC, " The local chief executives and their disaster risk reduction management officers are now well informed that they should strictly observe the hazard assessment in their respective municipality."
Del Rosario said Typhoon Pablo had proven that no area in the country is safe from any disaster.
The NDRRMC is working to ensure 100 percent compliance of all local government units nationwide in its disaster-response measures.
The DILG will have to crack the whip on uncooperative LGUs and sanction local officials who refuse to take disaster-preparedness seriously.
"I think that, if they faild to do their job, they must be held accountable for that," Del Rosoario. and I think it is inherent law or policy of our govt if you did not do your job, you have neglected your duties and responsibilities then you must be held accountable]
Del Rosario said authorities should learn also from the 1996 Ozone Disco tragedy.
Local officials were sent to jail for issuing business permits to owners of the establishment.
The same policy should apply to LGUs with high number of casualties following typhoons and flooding.
"There is what we call accountability: why give permits to people who will be constructing their buildings not observing their building codes," Del Rosario said.
The NDRRMC will hold regional summits in the coming weeks to ensure that the national government's disaster plans are trickled down to the barangay level.
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Pia Hontiveros, Chief Correspondent and anchor of Solar Network News and News.Ph, presents the Solar News and Current Affairs year-ender special: On the Cusp of Change. A deafening silence, not out of a loss for words but a grief that cannot be spoken, for thousands lost to a super typhoon ... A muted pain from a powerful tremor that violently shook the heart of the nation ... An unspeakable anger over pork barrel that fueled a political maelstrom ... These and other stories from the extraordinary challenging year that was.