Iloilo City Hall opens new ICARE center

Retired police colonel Uldarico Garbanzos (right), executive assistant for Community Welfare, leads the inauguration of the new Iloilo City Action and Response (ICARE) center at Brgy. Balantang in Jaro district on Wednesday, Feb 9, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Ken Jastia Gayacan)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Iloilo City government introduced its second Iloilo City Action and Response (ICARE) center at Brgy. Balantang in Jaro district on Wednesday, Feb 9, as part of its efforts to build up Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) capabilities.

The new ICARE center is expected to bring closer to the public emergency response services from local and national agencies, including the City DRRM Office (CDRRMO), the Iloilo City Emergency Responders (ICER), the Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO), Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

The blessing and inauguration of the ICARE center was held Feb 4.

The center has responded to 6 emergency cases via ICER as of Feb. 8, including 1 trauma case, 1 vehicular accident, 1 medical emergency case, and 3 COVID transport cases.

The CDRRMO held a press conference on Feb 8 to discuss the city’s new local response facility.

In his message, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas called the opening of the new ICARE center as “strategic” since it will be able to serve the DRRM and peace and order needs of immediate areas in the district.

“[The Balantang ICARE center] is very strategic in the sense that it will cover barangays which are in Jaro and will be able to cater to the needs of constituents along those areas,” said the mayor.

Balantang barangay captain Jeryl Agilles expressed happiness over the new facility, which he cited as being lobbied since previous city administrations.

“It was lobbied since the time of [former] Mayor Jed [Mabilog]. It would cover 13 barangays from Tabuc Suba to Buntatala. You would think about travel time covered by the ICER would be slow because they would come from afar. I also proposed this to [former] Mayor Joe III [Espinosa], but [his term expired]and replaced by Mayor Treñas. I am happy and fortunate enough that the project was approved because I know that it will benefit may constituents in Jaro,” Agilles said.

CDRRMO chief Donna Magno also touted their office’s new emergency telecoms network bought since last year to improve equipment within its Emergency Operations Centers including the ICARE centers.

These include 165 handheld transceivers, 13 mobile transceivers with antenna, 13 base transceivers, and 1 rapid-deployment computer system.

The first ICARE center in Brgy. Calumpang in Molo district was inaugurated last Nov 8, 2021. It has already responded to 94 cases via ICER, including 20 trauma, 29 vehicular accidents, and 45 medical emergencies.

Other ICARE centers including those in Brgy. Ungka in Jaro and Brgy. Nabitasan in La Paz are already in the works.

Future centers will include those in Megaworld Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao, Brgy. Tanza Esperanza in City Proper, and Brgy. Sooc in Arevalo.

The P38-million ICARE Command Center located at the Gaisano Iloilo City Center in Brgy. San Rafael, Mandurriao is also expected to be completed and inaugurated by the end of the first quarter this year.