Press Release
October 20, 2015


With the Philippines among the world's most vulnerable countries to natural calamities, Sen. Grace Poe said the government should expand its national disaster preparedness program by forming a department that is focused on risk management and emergency response.

Poe said the new department should be an expansion of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which will take charge whenever calamities occur on a national or regional scope.

The new agency would be permanent, independent, and headed by someone with a Cabinet rank so that it could have direct access to the Office of the President.

"The role of emergency management has gotten bigger and more imperative as natural disasters have become harsher and more frequent through the years," Poe said.

"Whoever will lead this new agency should have a fixed term, regardless of who is in Malacanang, freeing him from any political pressures that have no place in disaster response," she pointed out.

Poe, the leading presidential contender, said the new department would be responsible for the establishment of a centralized response system that will attend to all kinds of disaster-related emergencies such as earthquakes, typhoons, flashfloods and landslides.

The department should possess the latest search-and-rescue equipment, as well as the authority to tap the government's coastal and terrestrial assets for emergency response.

The senator stressed the need for a more organized and highly efficient national risk management and emergency response system.

"I find it ironic that we are the Call Center Capital of the world and yet we don't have our own hotline for emergencies," Poe said. "Often, local governments and national agencies have their own initiatives, and we end up with a disjointed response in the face of calamities."

Poe, a consistent frontrunner in surveys for the presidential race in 2016, said the new agency will be on top her agenda should she be elected president.

"As an independent body, the new department would have a legal personality to link up with similar agencies worldwide in terms of sharing valuable research, the latest search, rescue and recovery techniques, and even manpower support," Poe said.

According to the Natural Hazards Risk Atlas (NHRA) published in March by Verisk Maplecroft, a London-based company specializing in risk assessment, the Philippines has 21 of the 100 cities with the greatest exposure to natural hazards.

The global Top 10 list of cities most exposed to natural hazards include Tuguegarao (2nd), Lucena (3rd), Manila (4th), San Fernando (5th) and Cabanatuan (6th). The Philippines' "poor institutional and societal capacity to manage, respond and recover from natural hazards events" was a factor in its NHRA standing.

The NHRA, which evaluated 1,300 cities, was based on a city's combined risk exposure to tropical storms and cyclones, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, severe storms, extra-tropical cyclones, wildfires, storm surges, volcanoes and landslides.

News Latest News Feed