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Japan- Funded Disaster Mitigation Project in Camiguin Island Inaugurated

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Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and Embassy of Japan's Minister for Economic Affairs, Mr. Akio Isomata, attended the inauguration of the Project for Flood Disaster Mitigation in Camiguin Island on Saturday, January 7. The project is funded by ODA grant aid amounting to 1.013 billion yen (approximately 5 68 million pesos) from the Government of Japan and covers the Hubangon and Pontod River basins in Camiguin Island, which is among the Mindanao and Visayan Islands.

The project, implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), includes the construction of two Sabo ( soil erosion control ) dams, barriers to prevent landslides, along Pontod River and the reconstruction of Hubangon Bridge, which forms part of the peripheral/national road and spans across the Hubangon River.

The project was proposed after Camiguin Island suffered heavy loss and damage during Typhoon Nanang in November 2001 which resulted in approximately 250 dead and missing as well as estimated damages of over 5 million US dollars. After this disaster, the Basic Plan for non-structural disaster prevention measures was formulated with Japanese cooperation, which covers the warning system, the evacuation drill and the educational campaign on disaster prevention. However, the Hubangon and Pontod river basins, which suffered the most serious damage, were not covered in any structural disaster prevention plan and the damaged bridge was not rehabilitated either. Rising sediment on the riverbed heightened the risk of similar disasters caused by intense rainfall.

This project aims to enhance disaster prevention and management capability of the Philippines by improving the ability of Camiguin Island against mud slides and other related damage, and to improve the standard of living in Camiguin through the enhancement of safety and reliability of its traffic infrastructure.

Minister Isomata said in his remarks, “This project, together with non-structural disaster prevention assistance Japan implemented earlier such as evacuation drills and education campaign, will strengthen the ability of Camiguin Island against future risks of mud slides and other negative impacts, thus contributing to enhancing disaster prevention and management capability of the Philippines.”

Minister Isomata also said, “Being close neighbors both prone to natural disasters, Japan and the Philipines can assist each other by sharing experiences and lessons accumulated over the years to help mitigate the suffering of their people in the face of natural calamities.”

Cooperation in the field of disaster prevention and management has been one of the main pillars of bilateral cooperation between the two disaster-prone countries. Both countries confirmed further cooperation in this field in the Joint Statement issued on the occasion of President Aquino's visit to Japan in September 2011. This project is expected to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries as well as consolidating bonds of friendship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines.