More Frequent, Deadlier Disasters Expected If La Nina Hits RP; Poll Bets Should Declare Disaster Plans Now

Mar. 15, 2007

MANILA — Local and national candidates should publicly declare their respective disaster prevention plans in preparation for the typhoons, floods, and other natural disasters expected to come with the La Nina phenomenon, environmental activists from Kalikasan-Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) said today.

PAG-ASA yesterday reported that the rain-laden La Nina weather phenomenon was expected to hit the Philippines in the next two or three months. La Nina is expected to bring about above-average rainfall and intensify the effects of tropical storms and persistent heavy rains that hit the country, including flash floods and landslides.

“When La Nina hit the Philippines from 1998 to 1999, the strong typhoons and floods that adversely affected palay and corn crop production and significantly damaged infrastructures such as dams and irrigation facilities. La Nia-induced typhoons also affected at least 26 provinces particularly in Luzon and Eastern Visayas,” Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista, Jr. noted.

“As early as now, candidates should declare how they plan to protect vulnerable communities from the expected devastation that La Nina will bring about. Natural disasters, such as more flash floods and landslides especially in areas where large scale foreign TNC mining and logging are rampant, are sure to come around in the coming months in La Nina hits. It’s only logical that the candidates declare exactly how they mean to address these very real threats to the people. Otherwise, they should not be running for public office,” Bautista said.

“We in Kalikasan-PNE are particularly concerned over the threats to mining-affected areas, such as the Lafayette mine in Rapu-Rapu island in Albay. Remember that the two mine spills that caused the temporary closure of the mine last year were partly triggered by heavy rains, aside from the tailings dam’s structural flaws. Now that the DENR has inexplicably allowed the reopening of the Lafayette mine and resumption of full commercial operations, we are gravely concerned that more bad weather will only ignite the ticking environmental time bomb in Rapu-Rapu,” Bautista said.

“We’ve been monitoring our Senatorial bets’ positions on different issues but unfortunately, very few are advancing a pro-environment and pro-people agenda and a strategic program for saving the country’s environment. Many candidates, mostly from the administration slate, are even unabashed backers of large-scale logging and mining companies which have brought about so much devastation to our ecology and plunder of our natural resources,” Bautista said.

“Up to now, the Arroyo administration has yet to come up with and much less implement a through and strategic contingency plan against the effects of climate change. Instead of embarking on program to generate

hazards and risk maps for flood, land/mudslide and lahar-prone areas, the Arroyo administration has been approving timber licensing agreements and mining applications left and right, without giving a hoot as to whether these commercial operations will be able to withstand such adverse climate changes and destroy our national patrimony and the peoples’ lives in the process,” Bautista ended. ###

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