South Cot wants disaster body integrated with provincial gov’t

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 April) – South Cotabato officials are pushing for the institutionalization of the province’s disaster response and mitigation programs with the integration of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) as a new unit of the provincial government.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said Tuesday the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has finally approved the establishment of a separate unit for the PDRRMC to pave the way for the implementation of various initiatives in line with the province’s designation as a pilot area for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the country.

South Cotabato, along with Laguna province, was earlier chosen by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as a pilot area for the implementation of strategic mechanisms to help mitigate and minimize the impact of disasters, especially those related to the changing climatic conditions, he said.

“We’re currently working on the mechanisms of the new PDRRMC unit and we’re also completing the necessary requirements to facilitate the implementation of the (piloting) program,” the governor said.

As a pilot area, Pingoy said the NDRRMC will help implement disaster response, risk reduction and climate change adaptation programs in the province, especially in areas that were perennially hit by landslides, flashfloods and other related disasters.

He said among the initial component of the program is the rehabilitation of critical rivers, forests, watershed and other waterways as well as flood-prone communities in the province.

The local government will also delineate all landslide-risk areas and begin the permanent relocation and resettlement of residents from the identified high risk areas to safer communities, he said.

Pingoy said development is currently ongoing for the three identified relocation areas for residents that were earlier displaced by various floods and landslides.

The relocation areas are located in Barangay El Nonok in Banga town, Canahay in Surallah, and in Palian in Tupi.

Pingoy said the NDRRMC will evaluate and study the implementation of the component initiatives, which would be developed by the national government as model for other local government units.

“The projects and programs would be partly funded by NDRRMC and other agencies but the implementation aspect would be handled mainly by the provincial government,” he told reporters.

Pingoy said the provincial government had submitted its proposed disaster risk reduction programs to the National Economic and Development Authority for funding considerations.

To set off the operationalization of the PDRRMC unit, the governor said he has designated the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office’s disaster operations division to lead its manpower core.

He added that they will further beef up its personnel requirement by adopting employees from other provincial government offices. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)