LGUS urged to observe risk reduction measures

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/21 March)—Local government units in Southwestern Mindanao must now give serious consideration to disaster mitigation and preparedness measures more than ever to avoid tragedies.

This was the gist of the recent briefing here on calamity response and geo-hazard maps for LGUs conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in Region 12.

Buagas Sulaik, DILG regional director, urged the local chief executives to develop their respective calamity response protocols for the safety of their constituents.

Specifically, he noted that the protocols should be harmonized with various sectors involved in disaster risk reduction and management.

Sulaik said that with what happened to the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan last December, there should have been lessons learned.

He was referring to tropical storm Sendong (international name: Washi), which wrought havoc that killed at least 1,200 people after devastating flash floods swept Northern Mindanao.

Sulaik said that Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo has instructed the regional offices to issue weather advisories and calamity warnings to local chief executives.

Weather advisories and calamity warnings from the DILG should not be ignored by LCEs even when sent through text message during the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning,” he said.

In line with Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, Sulaik said that DILG-12 will also conduct a region-wide training in addressing calamity warnings and understanding area hazards and response for barangays.

For his part, Jaime Flores, a geologist at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 12, presented the various risks confronting the region using geo-hazard maps.

“Awareness and comprehension of the hazard settings in the Region will help our LGUs [to prepare]”, he said.

The MGB-12 has been distributing geo-hazard maps it started printing last January.

Constancio Paye Jr., MGB-12 director, said they target to distribute the maps to all the 1,194 barangays in the region.

Also called SOCCSKSARGEN Region, it covers the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Paye said that villages considered high-risk to flooding and landslide will be the priority in the distribution list.

“These maps are vital for each barangay in identifying flood- and landslide-prone areas, in the preparation of the disaster risk and reduction plans, and in identifying safe locations for evacuation,” he said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)