Iliganons meet to collaborate on disaster response

This city and the neighboring towns in Lanao del Norte experienced disasters in 2008 —  the outbreak of hostilities in the wake of the collapse of the GRP-MILF peace talks in August, followed by the bombings of stores  and  approaching 2009, floods affecting low-lying areas of the city.

Efforts of both government and civil society to respond to the needs of the disaster victims were heroic, but flawed owing to very weak collaboration among the different agencies and organizations.  

Collaboration was the reason behind the Disaster Preparedness Forum held at the Social Hall of the Redemptorists here this afternoon. The forum was organized by the Action Group Against People's Exploitation (AGAPE), a loose network of non-goverrnment organizations (NGOs), church groups and schools in the city.

AGAPE members saw the need for these agencies to come together to evaluate their efforts and thus the forum was organized to work towards a greater collaboration.

"We know that the NGOs  have little regard for us in terms of our responses to the needs of the victims of calamities, but we can say that we do our best and we wish there could be more collaboration with them,”  Pearly Mantos of the Iligan City Social Welfare Department (CSWD)  told some 50 participants  of the Disaster Preparedness Forum held at the Social Hall of the
Redemptorists here this afternoon.

Pacificador Lluch Jr., Iligan City Administrator and chair of the Iligan City Disaster Coordinating Council (ICDCC), expressed his wish for more collaboration between government and civil society in responding to the needs of those affected by natural and man-made disasters.

As head of the ICDCC, he said he looks forward to more involvement of civil society organizations in the Council.

"The City has shifted its attention now to a disaster prevention perspective," he told the audience.

Even as City Hall will continue responding to disaster victims, Lluch said there will be more initiatives in terms of minimizing the occurrence of disasters in the city.

Bishop Elenito Galido, Fr. Albert Mendez of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Iligan, Luther Autor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and Adona Orquillas of the Ranaw Disaster Response and Rehabilitation Assistance Center constituted the panel that discussed the issues related to disaster response along with Mantos and Lluch.

As a result of the forum, AGAPE's Secretariat Committee will pursue more discussion with the ICDCC on how to concretize the intent at a stronger collaboration.  This will also involve getting Moro stakeholders to also play key roles in the Council.

"We are pleased with gatherings such as this since it provides a forum where government, Church, NGOs, school heads and others can discuss issues affecting our people while moving towards greater collaboration," said Bishop Galido at the end of the forum. (MindaNews)