North Cotabato beefs up disaster preparedness

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/19 February) —  North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou “Lala” J. Taliño-Mendoza has beefed up disaster preparedness and response in the 17 town-one city province with the purchase of rescue equipment and  the installation of a radio communications network to link barangays in every town.

Talino’s move came in the wake of  disasters that have recently struck the country — tropical storm Sendong in North Mindanao in December, the landslides in Compostela Valley province in January and the earthquake in Central Visayas this month.

Acknowleding that some towns in the province are disaster-prone, Mendoza stressed the need to double their efforts.

Part of the preparations, she said, is the purchase of P26-million worth of rescue equipment such asHydraulic 
The governor said she recently convened the barangay officials and concerned government agencies  to discuss disaster risk reduction and management.

“Our preparation is really down to the barangay level. As part of this, we will put up a radio network in every municipality to be able to coordinate to the villages in times of emergency,” she said, adding mobile phones may not be accessible in remote areas.

Disaster-prone areas in the province have been classified according its vulnerability, she said. Low-lying towns of Mlang, Tulunan, Kabacan, Pigcawayan, Midsayap and Aleosan are among those marked highly susceptible to flooding.

These six towns surround the Ligawasan Marsh. During heavy rains, hundreds of hectares of ricefields in these town are submerged in water as rivers and irrigation system overflow.

Mendoza said the local government of Carmen has sent notice to the villagers living on the riverbanks of Pulangi River to vacate the area because they are vulnerable to flooding, said the governor, who hails from Carmen.

No number was given on how many riverbank dwellers would be relocated.

Identified as landslide-prone areas on the geo-hazard maps released by the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau are the mountainous towns of Arakan, Alamada, Magpet and some portions of Matalam, and this city.

Mendoza said she will distribute the geo-hazard maps to the municipalities and require them to post them in their town halls to keep the public aware.

“We really have to prepare.  We need to double our efforts and maximize our resources to ensure that in case of calamities, we could quickly respond to the needs of our people,” she said.  (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)