Celso mulls Pettit Barracks as site for disaster office, warehouse PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 21 March 2011 17:02

Mayor Celso Lobregat and the members of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC) are eyeing the possibility of using a portion of the Pettit Barracks area as the site for the construction of an office and warehouse to store equipment and foodstuffs as a disaster preparedness measure.

This, based on the law mandating the creation of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils in all local government units. The law, among others calls, for the setting up of an office and the creation of plantilla positions for people to man the CDRRMC office which would require the passage of an ordinance.

In compliance with the law issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government end of January, Mayor Lobregat issued an executive order renaming the former City Disaster Coordinating Council to CDRRMC on February 8, the same day when the issue assistance for Jolo flashflood victims was discussed.

“With the plantilla positions not yet in place, we can designate existing employees to man that office in the meantime”, Mayor Lobregat said in an interview with City Hall reporters.  “We are looking at possibility of building a warehouse or structures to store all these equipment and supplies.”

The chief executive said the CDRRMC eyes the parcel of lot at Pettit Barracks that the city acquired through a usufruct agreement with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The site is located adjacent to the area where the BSP building is now being constructed.

Unlike in the previous CDCC, the law creating the CDRRMC allows the use of funds for risk reduction programs or projects and not merely for calamities. “With the new law, we can use the calamity funds for risk reduction and so we are going to spend funds for disaster risk reduction measures”.

Local governments are required to allocate 5 percent of their budgets for calamity fund every year.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lobregat said the city government through the CDRRMC and other concerned agencies are jointly undertaking contingency measures to reduce risks in case calamities or disasters will strike.

The tagging of structures along the coastlines and the prohibition on the construction of houses and other structures on hazardous areas are among the pro-active measures being undertaken by the city government.

“It is just unfortunate that when we prohibited the reconstruction of houses along the Cawit shoreline after a fire incident razed the houses to the ground, some politicians agitated for people not to follow our directive”, the mayor said stressing that an incumbent councilor, who has been challenging City Hall to bare its disaster preparedness plan, was one of those who then asked the local government to go slow on its directive.

“And so if you are talking about disaster preparedness we are doing our part and we are looking at the future by disallowing the construction of structures along the shorelines and hazardous areas”, he said adding that the construction of covered courts in the different barangays may be considered as part of the disaster preparedness program of the city.

He added: “You can’t really prevent such an occurrence (disaster) , you can’t foretell when a disaster strikes but we are making sure that the risk and damage on lives and properties is brought to a minimum and it takes a lot of advocacy, a lot of education and a lot of will”.

In line with disaster preparedness,  Zamboanga City was recently cited as the city that is best in disaster preparedness by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Center, USAID and GTZ in line with the Cities Competitiveness Ranking Project.  — Sheila Covarrubias