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DILG pushes for ‘scaling up’ of efforts in building resilient LGUs

PASIG CITY, Philippines – Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has underscored the need to ‘scale up’ not only in disaster preparedness, but also in building the resilience of communities.
Sarmiento said that among important efforts that should be made are the retrofitting of bridges in support of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); utilization of the Geographic Information System to simulate if a structure is on top of a faultline; and stricter enforcement of compliance to the new Building Code.
“We should move forward and scale up our kind of thinking na sana pagdating ng panahon, we can be as prepared to deal (with disasters) as Japan. What is a supertyphoon for them is a disaster for us because of the way we build our houses. We have to accept and adapt to the fact na ang lugar natin ay bagyuhin,” he said.
“Bawat isa sa atin–it’s high time that we be conscious, we adapt, para mababawasan yung problema ng Response Cluster,” he added.
Sarmiento was one of the guest officials who formally opened the 2nd Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) with the Ceremonial Button Pressing at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City last June 22, 2016.
He convened with other officials in the NDRRMC and CSO representatives for a briefer and press conference. He shared about the disaster response and risk reduction (DRRM) initiatives of the Department that serves as co-chair in the Council, emphasizing the need for an “orchestrated response” to disaster risk and reduction (DRRM) on the local scale.
The Secretary mentioned DILG’s Oplan HANDA or Handa sa Aksidente at Disaster, a program at the household level that introduces each household member to the hazards that will affect them, and provides them with a step-by-step plan to act on these hazards; the Department’s talks with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to encourage State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) to put up their own respective DRR institutes where Local Chief Executives (LCEs) may undergo training; and the facilitation of visits to NDRRMC command center, where the LCEs could keep updated and also learn from each others’ experiences.
“Every year nag-iimprove po tayo, at nag-iinvest din ang gobyerno sa mga kagamitan na kailangan natin,” Sarmiento said, citing the acquisition of four more C130 helicopters to add to the lone unit that was used during Supertyphoon Yolanda; a brand new C295 aircraft; and the newly arrived BRP Tarlac, the country’s first strategic sealift vessel, which can hold equipment and supplies during a time of calamity and act also as makeshift floating hospital for Department of Health (DOH) staff and volunteers in case of damage to hospital structures.
The DILG numbered among the many attendees from the member agencies of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC); representatives from neighboring ASEAN countries; civil society organizations (CSOs); and the media in what proved to be a smooth, efficient, well-executed event of the NSED that morning.
The earthquake drill meant to simulate a scenario in which a Magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurred along the West Valley Fault–the worst case scenario that could happen for Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.