Press Release
April 29, 2015

Villar: Nepal quake is a reminder to rethink policies on disaster preparedness

After the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook Nepal over the weekend, Sen. Cynthia Villar urged the government to rethink its policies and pushed for a measure that will protect the vulnerable sector in times of emergency and natural disasters such as an earthquake.

"The earthquake in Nepal reminds us that disasters can happen when we least expect it. We should now review and strengthen the policies that we have on disaster response and preparedness," Villar said.

She also reminded school administrators and agency heads to resume and regularly hold earthquake and fire drills for students and employees.

Villar noted that the Philippines is known as the most disaster prone country in the world. Citing a study by the Senate Economic Planning Office, about 50.3 % of the country's total area and about 81.3% of the population are vulnerable to natural disasters because of its geography and geographical location.

"As we see from reports in Nepal, children are the most vulnerable and affected of all. The Philippines should enact a law that will protect the children and ensure that they are provided with shelter and basic needs and the opportunity for education after the onset of disasters," she said.

The Nacionalista Party senator also said that in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda, millions of children were affected. Thousands died and went missing, while those who survived suffered psychosocial trauma and experienced difficulties in evacuation centers.

"Education of our children was hampered by indefinite class suspensions when calamities strike, which also drove them to engage in hard and dangerous labor," Villar said.

Villar authored Senate Bill 2718 or the Children's Emergency Relief and Protection Act. Under the bill, the Department of Social Welfare and Development in coordination with the Office of Civil Defense, will formulate a Comprehensive Emergency Program for Children which will be implemented immediately after the declaration of a national or local state of calamity to protect the children and support their immediate recovery.

The program will have the following components: 1) Establishment of shelter for displaced children; 2) Assurance for immediate delivery of basic necessities and services; 3) Stronger measures to ensure the safety and security of the affected children; 4) Timely delivery of health and medical services; 5) Pan of action for prompt resumption of educational services for children; 6) Establishment of emergency center; and 6) Promotion of children's right.

The bill also limits to 30 days after the declaration of state of calamity the use of schools when there is no other available place or structure which can be used as a general evacuation center. This will be limited to the areas or spaces in the school that are not used as classrooms such as gymnasiums and auditoriums and other open spaces.

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