MANILA, JULY 4, 2008
(STAR) By Christina Mendez - The country has incurred an annual direct damage amounting to P15-billion as a consequence of natural disasters in a span of 30 years, the World Bank reported yesterday.

Between 1970 and 2000, the Philippines incurred an annual direct damage of P15 billion due to natural disasters, representing 0.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product each year.

Sen. Loren Legarda said such losses can be moderated if the country invests in disaster and climate risk vulnerability assessment and prevention.

Legarda also agreed with the World Bank study which stated that it is more cost-effective for developing countries to invest in disaster risk prevention.

“For every dollar spent in prevention, there is a corresponding savings of seven dollars,” she said.

She added that poverty and social pressures make people more vulnerable to natural disasters, pointing out that the poor are forced to live in dangerous locations and on unsafe, easily destroyed dwellings such as shanties on creeks and hills.

She noted that developing countries like the Philippines could improve their abilities to absorb the cost of natural disasters if they would incorporate updated economic analysis of frequently occurring catastrophes.

“Focused attention on disaster planning is an important pillar of economic growth and poverty reduction,” Legarda said.

She stressed the need for government to fund and put in place disaster-mitigation measures to minimize human and economic losses caused by natural disasters and calamities like typhoons.

“The Philippines sits within the typhoon and earthquake belt of Southeast Asia, thus the importance of us being ready to face calamitous events, including floods and landslides, so as to minimize their adverse impact,” she said in the aftermath of the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars off Sibuyan Islands, Romblon last month.

Legarda stressed that it is necessary to mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into the country’s development policies, structures, programs and budget.

“An example of this, would be knowing beforehand where floodwater is most likely to flow in the event of excessive rainfall, so that vulnerable communities can be better situated, ditto with agricultural lands,” Legarda said.

“This way, we can minimize loss of lives and agricultural produce, instead of people scurrying for safety and tons and tons of produce being lost whenever typhoons hit our country.”


Statement of Deputy Spokesman Lorelei Fajardo

The inflation rate increase is spurred by the continuing rise in the cost of fuel in the world market.

The increase in fuel prices has impacted heavily on our economy. The BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) is presently studying options that will help curb the rise in inflation.

In the meantime, we urge all sectors of society to help in the government’s effort to conserve on fuel.

Also, we urge our food manufacturing sector to be sensitive to our consuming public. Price increases in food may seem to be the order of the day, but the government will not tolerate hoarders and vultures who will prey on our consumers.

We must work together as a people if we are to overcome this economic turmoil we are presently riding.

Government will and is committed to seek ways to soften the impact of inflation and the continuing rise in fuel costs.

We must, however, contribute by conserving and ensuring that our manufacturers and traders do not take advantage of the situation and cause further inflationary activities such as hoarding and overpricing. TOP


Statement of Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo: High inflation shows need for cooperation to hold down prices

The Arroyo Administration achieved the lowest annual average inflation of 5.5 percent till 2007, compared with previous administrations since 1986 but unbridled global oil and food price spikes have bring back double-digit inflation, last seen a decade ago.

The current surge underscores the importance of ongoing government-sectoral cooperation to curb price hikes.

The DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) and the DOE (Department of Energy) have worked with transport groups to crack down on kotong and colorum (that have been) hurting jeepneys, and have offered P500M in loans to convert diesel engines into more economical LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) motors.

The DA (Department of Agriculture) is working with farmers, local governments and lending bodies to boost rice production through FIELDS (fertilizers, irrigation, seeds, etc.) initiative.

The P4B in oil VAT (value-added tax) is providing P2B assistance to poor power consumers, P1B in student scholarships and loans, along with engine and light bulb conversion funds; plus Pantawid Pamilya cash aid and low-cost medicines and health insurance give further relief to the indigent.

We must join hands to rein in prices.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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