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DENR chief: Filipinos must learn to prepare for stronger typhoons

While his hope for “a hazard-free, disaster-free 2013” may be too much to ask for, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that the public must at least be prepared for stronger storms, “so we can avoid a repeat of Pablo and other destructive typhoons." Paje had earlier declared that stronger typhoons are “the new normal” that Filipinos should learn to accept and prepare for. “We must accept the fact that because of climate change, the typhoons [have] become much stronger and the volume of rainfall has increased tenfold,” he said.    The “new normal” also includes the stronger gustiness of tropical cyclones entering the Philippines, which should be something people should consider when constructing structures, Paje added. “We therefore recommend that all houses and public buildings to be constructed must have the ability to survive strong winds and storm surge. We have to make sure that new buildings are able to resist the effects of typhoons and floods,” he said.   He also repeated his call for the strict enforcement by local government units of the “no man’s land” rule in permanent danger zones identified by the Department to mitigate the effects of flashfloods and landslides.    Paje added that the devastation caused by Pablo should prompt LGUs to study the geohazard maps prepared by the DENR's Mines and Geosciences Bureau to pinpoint landslide- and flood-prone areas in their jurisdiction. “Once again, we are appealing to the LGUs to please read carefully and familiarize themselves with the geohazard maps, and use them not only for planning but more importantly to save lives,” Paje said.    The DENR has distributed close to 70,000 geohazard maps to some 42,000 barangays in the country. The maps can also be viewed on the Department website. — BM, GMA News