M12ALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/12 August) – The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office has trained volunteers to a rescue auxiliary team in eight barangays belonging to the Upper Pulangi, a remote area near Bukidnon’s boundary with Agusan del Sur.
Alan Comiso, CDRRM officer, told MindaNews Friday they had trained 46 local volunteers in two batches from June to July.
He said the response center in Upper Pulangi will be located in Barangay Mapolo.
It takes at least two hours for the city’s rescue team, based in downtown Barangay 9, to respond to distress calls from the Upper Pulangi district, Comiso said.
He added that because the area is far from the center, rescuers are usually unable to respond on time.
The CDRRMO said the volunteers came from the Upper Pulangi Riders Association (UPRA), who went through the basics of rescue training including water and mountain rescue operations.
Comiso said the group was patterned after Karancho, where he came from prior to his appointment this year as the city’s chief rescue man. He said rescue teams will also be formed next in the “Basakan barangays” and then the highway barangays. He said they aim to train barangay officials on community-based disaster risk reduction and management. Although not one of the Upper Pulangi barangays are flood-prone, Comiso said it was prioritized due to its distance.
Aside from Mapolo, the city’s Upper Pulangi district includes Barangays Busdi, Caburacanan, Indalasa, Kulaman, Silae, St. Peter, and Zamboanguita and has a combined population of 13,729.
In 2010, Malaybalay’s population was 153,085, according to data from the Regional Development Council. As of this year, Comiso said the city has accumulated P64.7 million in funds for disaster risk reduction, which it intends to spend before it is reverted to the general fund.
The city’s rescue team was formally organized only in February this year.
While still undergoing training, the team members were sent to help in the relief operations after tropical storm Sendong that hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities on December 16 last year that left hundreds of people dead.
They also joined rescue operations during the flood in Valencia City on December 27 last year.
(Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)