Press Release
February 18, 2012


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- The 1st Mindanao Summit on Disaster Risk Reduction and Geo-Hazard Awareness will open today at the Dynasty Court Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, gathering together the experience, insights and expertise of participants from various fields all over the country.

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, organizer of the two-day event right at the ground zero of the devastation wrought by the killer typhoon "Sendong," said that the Summit hopes to kick-start a comprehensive plan of action and facilitate efficient coordinated efforts in response to future calamities.

Millions worth of properties and infrastructures and some one thousand lives were lost to the fury of Sendong which hit hardest in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City with mudflows and flash floods as residents were caught unprepared as well as government officials of the two beleaguered cities.

"With foresight and vigilance, we can rise above the challenge," said Pimentel, who expressed gratitude to the massive outpouring of generous aid from both local and foreign institutions and countries "to begin the slow, hard work of rebuilding the shattered lives of our people in ruined areas."

"With the effects of climate change only intensifying from here on out, natural calamities will be an inevitable challenge to local governments and communities in the region. Nevertheless, devastation need not be so paralyzing and need not come with human cost," he added.

Cagayan de Oro City mayor Vicente Emano was bitterly criticized for his failure to relocate people living dangerously near the banks of the Cagayan river and his slow response to the calamity that worsened the tragedy, the worst to hit the city in memory.

Among the resource speakers are Congresswoman Bai Sandra A. Sema of the first district of Maguindanao and Cotabato City, along with Climate Change Commission Sec. Mary Ann Sering, Social Welfare Sec. Dinky Soliman and Sen. Loren Legarda, who will provide the context and overview of current disaster risk reduction measures.

Facts on natural resources, climate and geology will be tackled by Dr. Gemma Narisma of the Manila Observatory, Prof. Alfredo Lagmay of the National Institute of Geologic Sciences of the University of the Philippines, Dr. Renato Solidum of PHILVOCs, Prof. Hilly Ann Quiaoit of Research and Social Outreach of Xavier University and Dr. Vicente Malano of PAGASA.

Also invited are Sen. Gringo Honasan, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Bishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro City, Maria Cagay of the Center for Preparedness and Vice Mayor Alfredo Arquillano Jr. of Camotes Island, Cebu, who will share their respective insights and best practices on disaster risk reductions and management.

Pimentel is joined by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Andrew Byrne of Mission Philippines-Commonwealth of Australia, Fr. Bobby Yap of Xavier University and Edwin Capali, former chairman of the Dipolog City Chamber of Commerce and Industry as co-organizers of the event that is being supported by Australian-Aid.

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