Press statement of Senator Loren Legarda

August 13, 2009

Press Release
August 12, 2009

ON INTEGRATE DISASTER RISK

The extensive flooding and numerous landslides caused by typhoon “Kiko” and previous typhoons highlight the need for our government to integrate disaster risk reduction in our economic planning and development program. In Zambales, the flooding of at least ten villages is attributed to the bursting of the Bucao dike which was reportedly built simply out of mud. The dike would have held were it built of stronger materials, like cement.

My bill, Senate Bill No. 3086, otherwise known as the “Disaster Risk Management Act”, seeks to include disaster risk reduction and climate change issues in all processes of economic development planning, budgeting and governance, and develop and strengthen the capacities of vulnerable and marginalized groups to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the effects of disasters.

My committee on climate change is preparing to present the bill for approval by the Senate in plenary session. Incorporation of disaster risk reduction in economic development planning is actually a cost-effective measure since it would prevent huge economic losses arising from disaster and save the government huge amounts in relief and rehabilitation funds. The sooner the bill is passed the better for our country, especially the poor who live in vulnerable communities.

ON AUNG SAN SUU KYI

Our government should lend a strong voice, especially in the ASEAN, to deplore the decision by a Burmese court to extend the house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The decision is a blatant violation of human rights, especially since Suu Kyi, who is a Nobel Peace prize laureate, has already spent 18 years under house arrest.

The Philippines which has just interred with unprecedented high honors our own democracy icon, Corazon Aquino, should especially be more assertive in calling for the release of Suu Kyi. After all our government has been designated by ASEAN itself as its coordinator with the United States, a fact recognized by US President Obama during President Arroyo’s recent visit to the White House.

Democracy is a goal accepted by all ASEAN members as benefiting not only the region but the entire world.

ON OIL PRICES

The public’s outcry against manner the prices of oil products are set in our country cannot just be ignored. Because of deregulation, the oil companies that distribute oil products, including gasoline and diesel, are given full discretion on how to set their prices, depending upon market demand.

But it is well known that oil distribution in our country is actually controlled by an oligopoly of three major distributors so that competition in its full sense cannot be actualized. Oil is a basic product that goes into much of the economic activity in our country, especially transportation and industry. The organization of Petron as a government corporation before martial law through the initiative of the late Senator Jose W. Diokno was based on the principle that being a basic product, oil cannot just be left to the mercy of the market.

Now we are suffering from the policy of privatizing government agencies without regard to the actual service that they perform for our people.

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