LGUs urged: Work with DILG to reduce deaths during typhoon

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The national government has called on mayors and governors to coordinate closely with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other concerned agencies to reduce the number of casualties during typhoons.

This came after National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Alexander Pama observed that the failure of local chief executives of northern Samar to preemptively evacuate all people at risk during Typhoon Nona resulted in 13 casualties in the region.

Records from the Office of Civil Defense show that only 743 people in northern Samar were evacuated compared to thousands of evacuees in other regions.

Local chief executives in other regions hit by Nona implemented preemptive evacuation and this was the reason they did not have a high death toll.

“Preemptive evacuation is very, very important. The statistics will bear us out on this, so let us help one another,” Pama told local chief executives during a briefing with President Aquino recently.

“We (national government) are here to help, we will provide all the necessary support that you will need in the process of recovery of northern Samar,” he added.

Interior Secretary Mel Sarmiento, who hails from Samar and was a former mayor, also stressed that mayors should take the DILG’s “Listo checklist” seriously.

“Operation Listo” is a disaster preparedness program of the DILG that seeks to highlight the importance of preparing for calamities.

Chiefs of police should be carrying out the preemptive evacuation based on the recommendation of local chief executives.

In Gabaldon in Nueva Ecija, the volume of landslide was triple than that of Compostela Valley but there were no casualties because local officials followed the Listo checklist, Sarmiento said.

 But in August, more than 20 miners died in a landslide in Benguet because the chief of police did not know preemptive evacuation, he added.

Sarmiento noted that police chiefs must also study how to respond to disasters and that the leadership of local chief executives also plays an important role in saving lives.

Bring ‘substantial support’

Meanwhile, Caritas Philippines said that while they are grateful to President Aquino for taking time to visit Mindoro Oriental and Northern Samar that were severely affected by Typhoon Nona, they hoped that he brought with him “substantial support” not just “ceremonial aid.”

Fr. Edu Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, said that the President should also show “decisive leadership” in responding to the needs of those affected by the typhoon.

“We hope that his visit will not only be ceremonial, but must bring substantial support from the government to respond to the extreme emergency with fullest possible efficiency,” added Gariguez, who is heading the church-led needs assessment of typhoon-affected families in Oriental Mindoro.

Gariguez also stressed the need to mobilize all available help from the government and the international humanitarian community, especially in the spirit of Christmas. 

“Through the solidarity appeal we recently launched to the 61 dioceses nationwide, we are hoping to raise additional funds for typhoon victims in the coming days,” he added.

Caritas has initially released P1.89-million cash assistance from its local emergency funds called “Alay Kapwa” to support the relief operations and rapid needs assessments in at least five dioceses in the provinces of Oriental Mindoro, Northern Samar, Sorsogon, Masbate and Romblon.

But Gariguez said these funds are not enough, considering the magnitude of the devastation.

Among those who were first to respond ahead of the solidarity appeal are Caritas Manila, Archdiocese of Capiz, Archdiocese of Palo Relief and Rehabilitation Unit (Caritas Palo), Diocese of Calbayog and the Diocese of Tagbilaran.

The Catholic Relief Services (Caritas USA) also provided shelter and tool kits to Northern Samar, while Caritas Luxembourg pledged 7,000 euros (P350,000) in humanitarian aid. – With Evelyn Macairan 














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