By Teng Datu,
Cotabato City Bureau Chief
Cotabato City — As the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) commemorates the 40th year of the 1976 Moro Gulf Earthquake and Tsunami, the region’s Office of Civil Defense (OCD-Armm) conducted a multi-hazard simulation drill last week at the Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
The drill was done in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Armm’s Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Cotabato City Regional Medical Center and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“The drill is a venue to enhance the preparedness of the communities around the affected areas in case destructive events occur. We could also assess the response capability of various government agencies, even private and volunteer responders,” Myrna Angot, officer-in-charge director of OCD-Armm said.
“During the disaster, life-protecting actions must be taken immediately, so this drill will also help the responders to act as quickly as possible,” she said.
Aside from the government agencies and units mentioned above, other participating responders were: the Philippine Coast Guard; Philippine National Police (PNP)-Scene of the Crime Operatives; PNP-Regional Health Service; Philippine Red Cross; Bangsamoro Response Team; Bureau of Fire Protection-Emergency Medical Services; Office of the Provincial Fire Marshall-Maguindanao; Philippine Air Force-Tactical Operations Group XII; Cotabato City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office; and PNP-Regional Public Safety Battalion.
The activity also conforms with the national government’s four-point plan on disaster preparedness namely public information, education, communication, and disaster response.
The earthquake on Aug. 17, 1976, generated by movement along the Cotabato Trench hit the island of Mindanao. The off-shore earthquake produced a massive tsunami killing about 6,000 people making it the most disastrous tsunami to hit the country.
In a post-disaster Phi-volcs report, waves as high as nine meters struck the town of Lebak in Sultan Kudarat. It inundated almost all coastal towns of provinces bordering Moro Gulf namely Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Cotabato and Zamboanga.