Aside from addressing the power crisis, senators yesterday urged the government to start gearing for imminent disasters due to climate change and strong earthquakes in the wake of an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study that noted the Philippines' rising sea levels.
Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano warned of a potential coastal flooding after the ADB study showed that the Philippines ranks among the world's most vulnerable to climate change.
Besides the Philippines, the ADB found out that countries prone to coastal flooding include Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
"A recent study of the ADB... identifies the Philippines as (among) the world's most vulnerable... to climate change. The country ranks 5th globally in terms of the number of people to be affected by sea level rise," Cayetano said.
As an archipelagic country, "efforts must be made to identify areas that are at serious risks on account of rise in sea level so adequate planning and preparations can be made," he added, citing the report titled: "Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific."
Cayetano noted that the Philippine archipelago is lined with coastal communities that depend on fishing for livelihood. Thailand's capital, Bangkok for instance, was inundated by floods for several weeks triggering a negative impact on its tourism and economy.
The same ADB report suggested that governments must invest heavily on improving urban infrastructure resilient to harsh calamities and basic services to people in times of these disasters such as health, water and sanitation, and education for displaced schoolchildren.
"We can no longer afford to simply take risks when flashfloods and typhoons hit any part of our country.
Our poor people are constantly helpless due to lack of government programs and strategies for their timely safe evacuation them to safer places," said Cayetano.
"Tropical cyclones and flashfloods that killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Mindanao and the Visayas last year and previous calamities like tropical storm 'Ondoy' and typhoon 'Pepeng' should serve as crucial lessons for the government to learn from," the senator said.
Apart from these, government officials should also gear for a strong earthquake that could hit Luzon any time, said Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate Committee on Climate Change said.
According to Legarda, several warnings have been issued by experts about how the West Marikina Valley Fault that runs from the Sierra Madre mountain range in eastern Luzon to Laguna is "ripe for movement."
But these experts have warned that structures, especially those in the Metro Manila, may not be strong enough to withstand the strength of a possible Magnitude 7 earthquake.
"Even the integrity of this Senate building is suspect. What if a tsunami from Manila Bay hits it because of an earthquake," Legarda pointed out in a recent interview.