There is no doubt that Filipinos are naturally resilient that’s why they are capable to withstand the calamities and disasters that hit the country. But resilience is simply not enough.
This was the sentiment pointed out by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC) Chairman and Department of National Defense (DND) Officer in Charge Jose Faustino Jr. during the 22nd Gawad Kalasag (GK) Ceremony held at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
For Faustino, it is more important that the public knows how to prepare and respond when a calamity strikes.
“Year after year, these uncontrollable calamities ravage our nation physically and in spirit. However, the same overwhelming challenge further proves the resilience of Filipinos,” Faustino said in his speech.
“But beyond our natural resilience as a people, we have to be scientifically and technically adepth, adequating systems and processes that work. We need to continuously upgrade so that the next time a disaster comes along we are more prepared to respond,” he stressed.
The Philippines is highly exposed to a host of natural disasters mainly due to its geographical location.
The Philippines is located to the west of the Pacific where many tropical cyclones form, where many active volcanoes are situated, and where it is surrounded by tectonic plate subduction zones which keep the people constantly on the lookout.
There are at least five major fault systems in the country and these are located across the western, central, and eastern Philippines, Southern Mindanao, and in Marikina Valley.
In September, the World Risk Report cited the Philippines as the country which is at the highest risk of disasters and calamities out of 192 countries.
The Philippines obtained a risk score of 46.82 after several factors were considered such as exposure to natural disasters, vulnerability in terms of susceptibility to their adverse effects, lack of coping capacity to short term, and lack of adaptive capacity in the long term.
In terms of exposure alone, the Philippines ranked Top 4 with a score of 39.99, following Japan, Mexico, and China.
“Exposure is an element that is outside of our control so it becomes imperative that we continuously improve our nation’s capability to address effectively our vulnerabilities,” Faustino underscored.
During the event, the NDRRMC, through the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), recognized local government units (LGUs), schools, hospitals, private groups and institutions, and private individuals for their exemplary performance and notable contributions in disaster risk reduction and humanitarian assistance.
The GK, according to NDRRMC Executive Director Raymundo Ferrer, is a performance assessment mechanism and instrument that reinforces the commitment and support of stakeholders towards the enhancement of their DRRM programs.
“Along with the mission to recognize the stakeholders, GK continues to highlight the importance of DRRM and Climate Change Adaptation towards sustainable development,” Ferrer said.
“It also promotes the spirit of volunteerism among agencies and individuals as well as assessment of the capacity of stakeholders in identifying risks, reducing vulnerabilities in the communities, and addressing challenges brought by emergencies and disasters,” he added.