SoCot readies disaster preparedness

Bella Lechonsito, provincial disaster coordinating council (PDCC) action officer, said Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes vowed to continue pouring in more funds for the implementation of various disaster management programs to address the area's vulnerabilities to disasters and calamities.

"Our past experiences taught us that there's no better alternative to being properly equipped and prepared when disasters and calamities occur," she said.

Lechonsito said such policy has so far brought tremendous success for the province in terms of avoiding major damages and casualties when calamities and disasters hit the area.

Such achievement gave the local government last week its second "Kalasag (Shield) Award" from the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) for being the best disaster coordinating council in the entire country.

The province first earned the Kalasag Award, the highest recognition given by the national government to outstanding local disaster councils, in the 2004 national evaluation. No evaluation was conducted last year.

Lechonsito said the governor, who personally received the award from Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz during the awarding rites in Manila last week, took up the challenge to make it a three-peat and elevate the province to the elite Kalasag Hall of Fame.

"Our edge compared to other PDCC's is primarily the effective coordination system that we set up with non-government organizations and the private sector, the efficiency of our medical alert team and our capacity to immediately respond to disasters," she said.

Lechonsito said the NDCC also lauded the creation of the province's own peace and development initiative, the Sustaining Peace and Development Program (SPDP), that pioneered in Barangay Rang-ay in Banga town, as well as the launching of the Development Alternative Framework or Project DAF.

Project DAF, which was launched late last year, is a convergence of various socio-economic and development programs of the local government and other government and non-government agencies.

Last month, the provincial government forged an agreement with the United Nations Multi-Donor Program's (UNMDP) Act for Peace Programme for a joint implementation of peace and development initiatives in the province.

UNMDP initially released some P2.16 million as seed fund for the joint initiative in 24 convergence areas in the province.

Lechonsito said the provincial government will sustain the implementation of the SPDP and Project DAF, which already prevented the occurrence of armed conflicts in several areas of the province.

"We hope that Project DAF will also be replicated by local chief executives in other areas," Lechonsito added. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)