Lacson, Honasan suggest forced evacuation during disasters

Two woman residents smile as they cross the flood-hit area of Calumpit, Bulacan province, north of Manila, on Wednesday Oct. 5, 2011. Flooding from back to back typhoons have affected more than half a million people in northern Philippines and killed at least 76 people while leaving 29 others missing. (MNS photo)

MANILA – At least two senators on Monday said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) should force residents to leave their homes or prevent fishermen from going to the sea when strong typhoons pose dangers to them.

“Can you not use coercion? You can bodily take them,” Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate panel of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, said during the NDRRMC’s briefing at the Senate on Monday.

“Time is of the essence here, we cannot dilly-dally when they are vulnerable,” added Senator Gregorio Honasan, who was present during the same briefing.

Lacson likewise said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development can provide the necessary food and shelter for the evacuees.

However, Benito Ramos, executive director of the NDRRMC, said that they might be accused of violating human rights if they force residents to evecuate.

He added that some residents, like those from Bulacan, go to evacuation centers then return to their homes after a short while.

Defense Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Pio Batino, however, disagreed with Ramos.

“We believe there is an obligation on the part of the state to protect the people. (On the) exercise of discretion it can bodily take out people from locations which are dangerous to life,” he said during the same hearing.(MNS)

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