By SAMMY JULIAN
Manila News Bureau Chief
MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III will highlight the country’s revitalized disaster preparedness and response at a regional conference to be hosted by Manila this week.
According to Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., the President will be the keynote speaker at the opening of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management tomorrow.
The conference, which runs until June 6 with the theme “Post Haiyan—A Way Forward”, will tackle the lessons learned from the onslaught of super typhoon “Yolanda” (International name: “Haiyan”) as well as share best practices in disaster response.
The ASEM conference is a Philippine initiative announced by President Aquino during the 9th ASEM Summit in Vientiane, Laos in November 2012.
The initiative was adopted by 49 heads of states and governments, the presidents of the European Union and the secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that comprise ASEM.
“The Philippines aims to contribute to the new global architecture that will embody new policies and principles on disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) with the ASEM Manila Conference document to be called the “Tacloban Declaration,’” Coloma said.
Around 150 senior government officials, scientists, academics, policymakers, industry and business leaders, non-governmental organizations, leaders from the private sector and representatives of regional and international organizations from 36 countries in Asia and Europe are expected to attend.
Among the dignitaries attending are European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Kristalina Georgieva; Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlstrom; and Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Agriculture Hoàng Van Thang.
Coloma said the international gathering will also discuss:
- application of innovation, science and technology to policy practice
- strengthening the role of the state and other disaster risk reduction management stakeholders in disaster response and coordination
- improving the international response system through specialization and coordination; and
- recovering from disasters and building back better communities.”
Coloma said prior to the main assembly, the ASEM delegates are expected to visit Tacloban City to meet with local government officials and non-government organization leaders.
The delegates will also visit Bislig Elementary School in Tanauan, Leyte and then to Brgy. Pago, the site of a resettlement project for families displaced by “Yolanda.”/PN