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Responders tend to those “injured” during the National Synchronized Earthquake Drill held in Mambajao, Camiguin, on Thursday afternoon. (photo by Jigger J. Jerusalem)

Civil defense exec tells local governments to gear up so they could handle disasters

By Jigger J. Jerusalem
Correspondent .

LOCAL governments must see to it that they are prepared to ensure the safety of residents during earthquakes, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said Thursday.

Aside from regular earthquake drills that would remind people how to react in case there is a tremor, OCD regional director Rosauro Arnel Gonzales Jr. said, local governments must also put in place disaster management mechanisms, most especially in the training and deployment of responders and procurement of equipment.

He said residents might have already been trained on the basic duck-hold-cover move, but to save lives, the local officials must also be equipped to handle disaster response.

“The community might tell us, ‘We are ready,’ but how secure is the government in responding to disasters, especially if there are people affected or there are casualties?” Gonzales told the participants of the regional level of the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) held at Mambajao town, Camiguin.

“In this drill, we’d like to showcase the various responses of the government, from the local chief executives up to the barangay, and the different agencies who provided the necessary responders,” he said.

During the drill, different scenarios resulting from an earthquake were played out by both actual responders such as the provincial and municipal disaster risk reduction and management personnel, Bureau of Fire Protection firefighters and the Department of Health medical staff to community members acting as displaced residents and victims of tsunami, fire, and collapsed buildings.

Mambajao mayor and Camiguin governor-elect Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said he sees the need for an exercise like the NSED to constantly raise the people’s awareness since the island-province, which had its share of volcanic eruptions in the past decades, is prone to floods, landslides, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

The eruptions that caused earthquake and other calamities in Camiguin occurred in 1871 to 1875 and in 1948 to 1951.

Romualdo also recalled how in 2001 Typhoon Nanang devastated the province causing a massive landslide in Barangay Hubangon, Mahinog town that left 64 villagers dead and 117 more missing.

He said the typhoon isolated the island for about two weeks as government agencies and even the Armed Forces and the National Police responders could not land at Camiguin due to bad weather.

“We were on our own and the heavy rains, inclement weather made it difficult for help to come,” he added.

He said it was local government’s initiative that the people’s cooperation that Camiguin was able to withstand the calamity that struck them.

Romualdo described Typhoon Nanang as “the worst crisis that we had in Camiguin in recent history.”

He said Camiguin should be ready for any eventuality at all times, and in fact, the local government has published a handbook on disaster management that will guide the Camiguingnons in the event of calamities.

Col. Surki Sereñas, police regional spokesperson who was also one of the NSED evaluators, said the simulation was very organized with responders acting quickly to tend to the affected persons.

Based on the OCD-10 data, about 3,000 people participated in the regional NSED held in Camiguin, many of them students, community members, and local government workers.

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