LEGAZPI CITY—President Benigno Aquino III has lauded Albay for its ‘zero casualty’ record during the recent onslaught of Typhoon Glenda as a most noteworthy feat of a local government unit in disaster risk reduction, during his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Halfway through his Sona, Aquino thanked Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for prompt action during Glenda’s onslaught. The typhoon mauled Albay for eight hours on July 16. It claimed over a hundred lives elsewhere in the country.
Salceda attributes their zero casualty score to their “preemptive evacuation” strategy which required the evacuation of about 101,000 families to safe evacuation centers hours before Glenda’s forecasted landfall in the province. Packing over 180 kph center winds, Glenda wrought extensive damage in Albay worth about P9.1 billion, with some 98,000 families rendered homeless.
In his Sona, the President reported that the national government is implementing some technology-driven DRR programs, under it is Project Noah, for effective and fast disaster warning system and monitoring of heavy rains and flash floods.
These DRR programs, coupled with prompt action by LGU officials like Gov. Salceda, can save more lives and prevent deaths, Aquino stressed.
If a province that is considered a highway for strong typhoons can achieve this (zero casualty) feat, there’s no reason why other LGUs cannot achieve the same, Aquino said, which drew cheers from the crowd at the Sandiganbayan where the President delivered his address.
Salceda, who was present during the Sona, said it was a pleasant surprise to have been included in the President’s Sona, but added that “Albay rightly and richly deserves to be mentioned,” for working hard to achieve its ‘zero casualty’ goal during disasters.
The governor had pioneered “preemptive evacuation towards zero casualty’ that is now a byword in Albay and which the national and many local government units have already adopted. The strategy is complemented by investments in safe comfortable evacuation centers which also serve a classroom during normal days.
For its feats the United Nations has declared Salceda s its DRR champion and Albay as its global model in DRR and Climate Change Adaptation. The governor now sits as co-chair of the UN Green Climate Fund, the first Asian to have held the position of the prestigious international body tasked to fund global climate change programs.