Make people partners in protecting the reefs, Mitos urges gov’t

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said that the government must take a more proactive approach to disaster preparedness amid the release of the World Disaster Report 2012 in Brussels which puts the Philippines third in the list of most disaster prone countries.  She said that in order to do so, the people need to become partners of government in protecting the environment to mitigate the impacts of natural calamities should they occur.

“The government must address concerns raised by the report, mostly by working on beefing up protection of the coral reefs which can protect the country against coastal hazards like tsunamis,” she said.

Rep. Magsaysay said that the DENR has already initiated measures to protect the reefs but there are still incidences of abuses that need to be checked by the government. She added that in many coastal areas where fishing is the main source of income, residents are still unaware of what damages illegal fishing activities can cause to the reefs and what impact it has on marine ecosystems.

“What happens is that sometimes, due to lack of funding, the information and education component of the programs take the backseat, but in order to ensure the success of the program, we need to make the people our partners in protecting the reefs,” she said. “What people don’t know is that these reefs are their first line of defense when it comes to coastal disasters like tsunamis. If they are made aware that these might save their lives in the event of calamity, they might be more inclined to help rather than damage these reefs. These reefs are very important because the Philippines is surrounded by water and tsunamis pose an immediate threat to majority of its population.”

Aside from protecting the reefs, Magsaysay said that the government should also intensify its information drive for other disasters so that people will know what to in times of emergency.

“During the last disasters that struck the country, there has been a marked improvement in terms of evacuation and cooperation among residents, but the information drive needs to be sustainable so that the momentum will not be lost and people will be prepared for any eventuality.”#