“We learned so many lessons from Pablo”

TAGUM CITY (MindaNews/20 January)  — Typhoon Pablo taught Compostela Valley “many lessons” and the province now wants to ensure it could respond effectively should another disaster happen by allocating P2 million this year on trainings on disaster preparedness

“We learned so many lessons,” Compostela Governor Arthur Uy told the Kapihan sa ComVal Thursday morning, as he noted that it was the first time the province experienced a typhoon.

He said they “did prepare” for the typhoon, put in place an evacuation program, but “we came up short admittedly.”

He said the response to the disaster was rather chaotic in the first two weeks and that it was a good thing there were volunteers who helped them.

Uy said they are allocating P2 million this year for disaster preparedness. “We need to capacitate (our people) through trainings, equipment.”

This year’s allocation is more than twice last year’s.

Raul Villocino, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council told MindaNews that last year’s budget for trainings was P950,000.

Uy acknowledged the need to assess and evaluate their disaster preparedness “dahil napakarami palang kakulangan. Medyo kalat tayo” (because we are inadequate.. We’re disorganized).

He cited the handling of the dead as an example, apparently referring to the problem in New Bataan which posted the highest death toll not only in the province but in Pablo’s path across Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon.

Local authorities initially dug two mass graveyards at the public cemetery in Barangay Cabinuangan, New Bataan, only to be told by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the bodies should be in individual niches or in body bags if placed in compartments.

The NBI also told them there is a process to follow and that forensics teams need to get DNA samplings from the unidentified victims for matching with their surviving relatives.

Uy said the P2M budget will be used for trainings and other capability-building activities, separate from equipment like rubber boats.

He said he has asked the provincial government of Albay, a province used to dealing with typhoons, to conduct trainings in Compostela Valley.

Under RA 10121 or the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act  of 2010,  a declaration of  as state of calamity is no longer necessary to access and utilize the DRRM Fund.

The DRMM Fund is to be sourced from “not less than five percent of the estimated revenue from regular sources,” to support disaster risk management activities.  These include pre-disaster preparedness programs, including training, purchasing life–saving rescue equipment, supplies and medicines, for post-disaster activities and for the payment of premiums on calamity insurance.”

Of the total amount appropriated for the local DRRM fund, 30% is to be allocated as Quick Response Fund for relief and recovery programs. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)