Preparation for looming disasters needs urgent functionality of local disaster committees – OCD chief PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 14 July 2014 13:39

By DOMINIC I. SANCHEZ

 

Natural calamities have swept many parts of the country recently and, as a result, thousands of lives have already been lost. Billions worth of properties were destroyed. But then the painful truth surfaces — many authorities agree that those lives could have been saved, if only they have been more prepared.

Climate change is happening, many experts agree. And because of it, we are to expect more natural disasters in the coming years.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) emphasized that the organization and functionality of local disaster risk reduction management committees are a serious and urgent matter to be realized by local government units in the region down to the barangay level if communities are to be resilient to these looming calamities.

“The Local Government Units’ (LGUs) role is very important in disaster risk reduction. In drafting their plans, they should prioritize mitigating the effects of disasters through proper planning and allocating of their local funds,” said Eric Castillo, officer-in-charge of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-9.

“The LGUs, down to the barangays are mandated by law to organize disaster risk reduction management committees,” Castillo pointed out. “But these committees should not simply be organized only for compliance, they must be functional.”

“Let us think about the safety and security of our people, of our loved ones,” he stressed.

Castillo said that LGUs have a local disaster risk reduction management fund, amounting to not less than five percent of their annual budget. Seventy percent of this amount should be used for pre-disaster activities that would strengthen the communities’ resilience to disasters and calamities, which include the purchase of equipment, trainings, community organizing, and information dissemination campaigns. The other 30 percent can only be used when an LGU declares a state of calamity.

“More premium is put on disaster preparedness because we want everyone to be ready. If people are ready for any calamity, chances are there would be lesser effects and the resources needed to respond to disasters would be far lesser,” Castillo explained.

He added that it is high time for everyone in the communities to be prepared since climate change’s effects have already been felt in many parts of the country.

“Being ready for disaster, however, is not just government’s duty; every one of us, every family should be involved and prepared,” he said. “We do not want another Yolanda episode where thousands died because of the lack of preparedness for such a disaster.” — FPG/DIS/PIA9-ZBST