By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
SAGADA, Mountain Province — “Environmental protection is disaster prevention.”
Vicente Lagunday an Emergency Medical Technician from the University of Perpetual Help emphasized this in his discussion on disaster preparedness during the summer youth cultural arts and disaster risk management workshop at the Bangaan National High School here last April 10 to 14.
He pointed out that caring for the environment will decrease the number of disasters adding that landslides happen because there are already very few trees to hold the soil and mountains are already ravage by mining. He added that floods happen because the rivers are already silted and clogged with garbage.
Lagunday reiterated that disasters are increasing today due to the drastic change in the world’s climate brought about by environmental degradation. He stressed that the fast diminishing forest cover that is largely due to massive logging and large scale mining largely contributes to the erratic change in the world’s climate.
He explained that disasters happen when natural phenomena like typhoons and earthquakes result to fatalities. He cited as example the Ginsaugon, Leyte and Kayan, Tadian landslides and the Cagayan de Oro tragedy this year.
Earlier national daily reports highlighted that the Philippines is ranked among the most disaster prone countries in the world. The same reports also cited that the country on the average is being hit by 25 typhoons every year and it is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Lagunday further pointed out that he is sharing his knowledge to the youth on disaster mitigation and management because they are the future care takers of the environment and leaders of the country. He added that most government officials especially those who are elected into office are not aware or have very minimal background on disaster management which causes inefficient and delayed response to the needs of victims.
According to Lagunday political disaster is the worst among all disasters in the country. He further said that politicians should look and plan for quick response and long term solutions to help affected communities instead of using disasters as campaign platforms for their political careers.
“The lack of knowledge about disaster management and risk mitigation and government officials’ personal political interests makes it more difficult to provide immediate relief to affected communities,” he reiterated.
He also underscored that disaster preparedness is a personal thing and that people should not just rely on divine intervention and government assistance for survival. He added that a more prepared community can recover faster.
“You (Cordillerans) are very lucky because Cordillera communities are strong,” he stressed. He added that the strength of Cordillera communities can be attributed to their indigenous culture that has preserved their forest for a long time.
He further pointed out that with the emergence of corporate greed and influences of commercialization the youth should learn to protect and nurture their indigenous culture as well just as their ancestors did.
Lagunday trained the youth for basic emergency response and first aid treatment.
“I hope that those who have joined the workshop will share what they learned when they go back to their own communities and that the youth would take a more active role in the protection of their environment and culture,” he reiterated. # nordis.net