World | Philippines

Filipinos should get used to weather disturbances, official says

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje says typhoons and other weather disturbances are results of climate change

  • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent
  • Published: 15:29 August 11, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Residents commute along a flooded stretch of road in Calumpit town, north of Manila, yesterday. Thousands more flood victims crammed into evacuation centres on Friday as waist-high water covered vast farming regions and the death toll rose to 60.

Manila: Filipinos should learn to accept that typhoons and other weather disturbances would increase in intensity as a result of effects of climate change, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said.

“Filipinos must learn to accept the growing intensity of typhoons as the new ‘normal’” the environment top official said in the aftermath of heavy rains that left large areas of the national capital region and surrounding provinces under several feet of water.

Aside from the increasing intensity of monsoon rains, Filipinos should also be prepared for another extreme weather event — the long dry season.

“There is nothing we can do but to adapt to climate change and the only way we can be prepared for the impact of climate change is to accept that these recent developments in our country like intense weather disturbances, heavy rainfall, as well as long dry season are now the “new-normal,” Paje said in an interview aired over government station PTV Channel 4.

According to Paje, the Philippines had been identified to be highly vulnerable to the impacts of changing weather patterns as a result of the so-called “Climate Change.” For this, he said, the government has been working on long-term solutions to minimise damage on people and government infrastructures.

“If you allow rain water to go down the watersheds it would result in flooding. But if you can impound them, the water becomes a precious resource that you can use during the dry season,” he stressed.

Scapegoat

Environmental groups had earlier critised the government for using climate change as an escape goat for shortcomings in governance and overall apathy of Filipinos to proper waste management and disposal.

Local government units, especially in Metro Manila, had allowed the growth of illegal settler communities in waterways, blocking the flow of water that result in floods. The presence of the squatter colonies are encouraged by local officials for obvious political reasons.

Meanwhile, the budget department has already released the money that will fund the removal of informal settlers from danger zones that are often affected by natural disasters such as massive floods and landslides.

“The Department of Budget and Management has provided funds for housing for the relocation of informal settlers in danger areas,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview aired over government radio.

The money has been given to the National Housing Authority and the government will soon work to immediately remove the informal settlers from danger zones, she said.

Incessant rains

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that as of Saturday, August 11, 66 people were confirmed dead from the monsoon flood tragedy in Metro Manila and Northern Luzon.

“Eleven of the 66 recorded fatalities were victims of a landslide, forty seven died due to drowning, four due to electrocution, two due to heart attack / cardiac arrest and one died after a tree fell on him,” NDRRMC Director Benito Ramos said.

Nearly two weeks of incessant rains had left massive flooding in Metro Manila and Northern and Central Luzon as dams and waterways were unable to contain the huge amount of precipitation.

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