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Disaster council calls for strengthened adaptation, mitigation

THE Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council has called for strengthened adaptation and mitigation measures so communitiies could withstand the impacts of climate change.

Office of Civil Defense regional director and RDRRMC chairman Rosauro Arnel Gonzales Jr. said, “We are already conscious about our disaster management activities. That is why we should level up and consider coming up with programs that would really contribute to disaster resilience.”

Gonzales said they are introducing community-based risk reduction management starting with barangay officials who are expected to be the first responders in times of disaster.

Being in the grassroots, he said they are in the frontline. He said the Council has to capacitate them in risk reduction management.

Gonzales added: “Not only the barangay but also the families. If the families become resilient, the communities in the barangays will also be resilient.”

Department of Science and Technology regional director Alfonso Alamban, vice chairman for the disaster prevention and mitigation, said, “All our disasters are effects or impact of climate change. Pinaka-uyokan sa atong flooding is climate change.”

As of now, DOST has 111 equipment (automatic rainwater gauges, water level sensor and weather stations) spread all over the region, particularly near major river basins. This year, 11 sensors were added to various municipalities.

Since DOST’s function is on prevention and mitigation, Alamban said aside from equipment which are immediate means to preventing disaster, they also conduct medium-term and long-term research and development.

Medium term is our campaign to stop using plastic, he said.

Alamban said, “Plastic makasampong sa atong drainage, source of baha.”

He however said there are numerous research studies being done today in the fields of agriculture, and even culture and history which would help in long-term disaster prevention and mitigation.

To make sure local governments are prepared, Hazel Occeña, division chief, Local Government Capacity Development Division of Department of Interior and Local Government, and vice chairperson for disaster preparedness, explained each local government is mandated to allocate at least five percent from their regular sources every year for disaster activities.

The five-percent budget is divided into two: 70 percent for disaster preparedness activities on prevention and mitigation for response operation during disaster event, rehabilitation activities especially for infrastructure that were damaged, and 30 percent for quick response fund and can only be released if there is a declaration of state of calamity issued by the local Sanggunian.

Occeña said disaster risk reduction management plans of the local governments are not subject for review by the DILG, but “we guide them on how to prepare, utilize, provide technical assistance to LGUs. It will go to the usual process of budgeting and planning in the LGUs. The plan should be approved by local DRRM council. They have to integrate their plan to local development plan to their annual investment program to be included in the annual budget.”

As for disaster response, Department of Social Welfare and Development assistant regional director for administration Manuel Borres, also the vice chair for disaster response, said they are ready for relief augmentation.

“As long as there are evacuation centers, we will sustain relief goods,” he said.

Borres said they are implementing supplemental feeding to address nutrition situation in evacuation areas. (pia)

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