COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Nov) – Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has named members of ARMM’s Humanitarian Action Emergency Response Team (ARMM-HEART) as the “new heroes” during his State of the Region Address delivered Monday.
The governor cited ARMM-HEART’s performance during the Marawi Crisis as he inaugurated the team’s state-of-the-art operation center – which has huge LED screens, an assortment of rescue equipment, quarters for on-duty rescuers, and conference rooms – last Monday.
“The team members of ARMM-HEART are our new heroes,” Hataman said.
When the Marawi siege broke out on May 23, ARMM, through its HEART, had formed a crisis committee in less than six hours, immediately dispatched rescue teams, and organized an incident command post with its counterparts in Marawi, said Jo Henry, ARMM-HEART’s communications officer.
She said that with the joint crisis committees created, they were able to coordinate rescue missions amid the chaotic events.
Hataman signed on March 3, 2013 Executive Order No. 11 establishing ARMM-HEART as the center of operation of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC).
The ARMM leadership, Henry said, wanted to be able to dispatch rescue teams to disaster areas in less than 72 hours because the people could not wait for the delayed response coming from national government.
ARMM-HEART’s maiden operation took place in 2013 when a flood hit the municipality of Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao. ARMM-HEART attended to thousands of displaced residents and provided them food.
Teams were dispatched during the Zamboanga Siege later in 2013. Although not part of ARMM, many of Zamboanga’s residents are from the autonomous region’s island provinces.
ARMM-HEART likewise extended help to Visayas during Typhoon Yolanda.
They were also in Mamasapano after the botched raid of the police’s Special Action Force.
Henry said they train professional responders through the help of the Armed Forces.
She said it is their aim that local residents could stand on their own in handling local disasters so that the community down to the barangay level could take action even before the arrival of provincial and regional rescuers.
Lawyer Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary, noted that it is not only the soldiers and rescue workers that could be considered as heroes, but also the residents affected by disasters and yet volunteered their time and efforts to help other victims and took part in the rebuilding process.
The ARMM has allocated P450 million in its efforts in Marawi, realigning unused funds just to fill the daily needs of affected residents in the five-month evacuation ordeal, Henry said.
In the 2018 budget, the region is allocating P930 million for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi.
Hataman, in his speech, quoted Qur’an verses that even in despair, opportunities come, citing what happened to Mamasapano wherein development projects have been poured. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)