Bukidnon to operate province-wide emergency call network

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/08 January) — Emergency? Dial 117!

Bukidnon plans to operate a province-wide Emergency Dial 117, Ronelo Alvarez, provincial director of the Department of Interior and LocalGovernment announced during the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s regular meeting Wednesday.

Alvarez, chair of the PDRRMC’s preparedness committee, said the target is for the area coordination center, as it is initially called, to be operational in the first quarter of 2012.

He added the provincial government will share the P20-million “emergency network Philippines” (ENP) equipment, which he described as a means “to address emergencies by informing the public safety groups for appropriate and immediate rescue and assistance.”

The DILG turned the equipment over to the city government of Malaybalay in 2007.

Alvarez said the DILG regional office was supposed to run the emergency unit in Cagayan de Oro City.

“But the city government (CDO) did not accept the responsibility because of the cost to maintain it,” Alvarez told MindaNews.

He said the DILG was supposed to operate the EPN in Cagayan de Oro as a “regional hub.”He recalled it was during the earlier stint of Vicente Emano as city mayor when the EPN was stalled at the DILG regional office.

Alvarez said the EPN required an average monthly electricity cost of P30,000.

He added that since it was turned over to Malaybalay City in 2005, only Malaybalay was able to benefit from it.

Alvarez said the coordination of response during the Valencia City flashfloods in December showed there is a plenty of room for improvement.

He said the province-wide network will not only make disaster response easier and orderly. He said it will be also be used for peace and order and public safety emergencies.

Provincial administrator Provo Antipasado said Capitol has allotted a budget for the purchase of initial 200 units of hand-held radio to be distributed to the barangays. Bukidnon has 464 barangays.

The PDDRRMC members welcomed the announcement.

Gov. Alex Calingasan said there is a need for a good communication network especially for emergency responses during calamities.

it may be recalled that last December 27, Calingasan erred in announcing that a dam in Barangay Lumbayao, Valencia City collapsed when the Pulangi River swelled and flooded 10 barangays in the city on the same day.

Jimmy Apostol, of the National Irrigation Administration clarified that the Lumbayao irrigation dam, which does not impound water but just divert it, was intact. It was another NIA irrigation facility, a siphon near the Pulangi Bridge in nearby Barangay San Isidro that was destroyed.

Calingasan admitted that he was referring to the dam in San Isidro. His announcement caused panic in neighboring North Cotabato where the Pulangi River passes toward its mouth in Cotabato City where it is known as the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

Capitol officials said concerned agencies should have apprised the governor of the real situation quickly as the media normally turns to him for updates.

Alvarez meanwhile added the EPN can be accessed by the police, fire departments and public safety organizations.

The ENP call center is also designed to accommodate two to sixteen operator positions and is assured of permanent system availability and high reliability for emergency relief services.

The ENP’s computer assisted operation control, the DILG said, simplifies the operators’ workload. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)