GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 November) – The city government has allocated around P58 million for various disaster preparedness, mitigation and response initiatives in the area for next year.
Ephraim Beliran, action officer of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), said the appropriation comprises the total budget for the council’s operations and activities for 2013 as endorsed by the City Development Council (CDC).
The CDC, which is chaired by Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, is the city’s highest socio-economic and development policy-making body.
Beliran said the fresh allocation is on top of the council’s unutilized funds for 2011 and 2012 that is expected to reach around P100 million.
With the inclusion of the unused funds in the last two years, he said the city’s standby calamity resources for next year will reach P158.54 million.
“That’s our five percent calamity fund covering 2012, the remaining balance of 2011 and the approved budget for 2013,” he explained.
Of the total available funding for next year, Beliran said 70 percent would be utilized for disaster mitigation and preparedness as well as for rehabilitation initiatives within the city’s 26 barangays.
He said such activities include trainings on disaster rescue operations and related mitigation, preparedness and response mechanisms; information and education campaigns; and, the purchase of equipment for local rescue teams.
“It will also cover for the operations of our rescue vehicles and ambulances as well as our augmentation for the rescue truck of the city fire department,” Beliran said.
The official said the remaining 30 percent of the allocation will be used as standby funds for response activities and related initiatives in case disasters would occur in the city.
He said the funds may be used for relief and rescue operations during disasters as well assistance for the responders.
Beliran said the local government may immediately utilize such funds upon the declaration under the state of calamity of the entire city or areas affected by disasters.
In the last two years, portions of the city’s low-lying areas were hit by severe flooding that triggered massive evacuation and the destruction of various agricultural crops and infrastructure.
During the onslaught of typhoon “Ofel” late last month, around 150 families from three villages in the city were forced to evacuate due to the floods.
Early this year, the city government directed the clearing of residents situated in several calamity dangers zones, especially along the critical Silway River here.
Around 200 families that were situated in communities near the Silway River were forced to evacuate several times since last year due to the swelling of the river’s waters.
Silway River, which flows to Sarangani Bay, is the main outlet of several river-tributaries from the upland areas in nearby South Cotabato province. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)