Can councils respond to disasters?

Minda Morante, OCD regional director and executive officer of the RDCC, said there are councils that are not capable of executing their disaster response plans while others have plans that have not been updated.

Morante said the LDCC's play a vital role in the preparedness not just of the local government and partner agencies, but also the people in the communities themselves.     

The civil defense officer said the check is annual via a recognition program to honor active councils. She said this has been running for the last nine years.

Police chief Supt. Andres Caro II, Southeastern Mindanao RDCC chair, cited the achievements of Compostela Valley province; Municipality of Maragusan, Compostela Valley; Panabo City in Davao del Norte; and the Brgy. Maa disaster coordinating councils for landing in top three of this year's Gawad Kalasag national search.   

Morante could not say, however, who among the local councils are defunct and have plans that were not updated.

She said some LGUs cannot deliver expected responses because they lack the tools and facilities to do it.

She said some LGUs' calamity fund, which is five percent of the development fund, is not enough compared to the weight of the disaster response needed.  

She said if the councils at the lower level could not afford the bulk of the response needed, the municipal and provincial councils should be there to augment.

The Office of the Civil Defense and the multi-agency Regional Disaster Coordinating Council raised this point at the Kapihan sa PIA press conference Friday in observance of the National Disaster Consciousness Month.

Based on their latest assessment in May, the LDCCs in the provincial level are already in place but there is a need to check how they will implement their programs, Morante said.

Morante said the evaluation will be carried out from the provincial down to the barangay level, which she considered as the first line of defense against disasters.

The OCD official said they will check on the performance of the LGU's disaster preparedness, mitigating, response, and rehabilitation measures.

She said from the on-going evaluation this year, they will know if the local government unit has implemented its disaster management program.

Morante said the evaluation is meant to help strengthen the LGU's capacity, not just to check on their performance. "We are checking on where they are good or bad so we could recommend measures to improve them," she said.

On the limelight are local disaster coordinating councils in four provinces, five cities, and 45 towns in the region.

Morante said the focus of most LDCCs should also be at managing responses to floods, monsoon winds, and heavy rains, which commonly wreak the region.

OCD has organized disaster management training for local government executives on August 30 and 31 and announced that they are holding water search and rescue training with LGUs.                       

Caro briefed reporters that flooding this year has so far displaced 7,000 families in 12 towns and 60 barangays in the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental.

Estimated damage to agriculture and infrastructure is at P35 million.