‘INVEST AND BE READY’: Ursula highlights need for LGUs to invest in disaster-resiliency

Members of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) in Western Visayas led by Office of Civil Defense-6 Regional Director Jose Roberto Nuñez gather in a special meeting to discuss the effects of typhoon Ursula and updates on the ongoing relief operations at Smallville 21 Hotel in Iloilo City on Jan 7, 2020. (OCD-6 photo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) in Western Visayas will compel local government units (LGUs) in the region to invest in disaster-resilient equipment and actions following the onslaught of Typhoon Ursula on Dec 25, 2019.

In fact, even “rich” provinces like Iloilo have a long way to go when it comes to disaster risk reduction and management because it lacks an emergency operations center.

In response, RDRRMC chairperson Jose Roberto Nuñez said that starting 2020, he will not sign the local disaster risk reduction and management (LDRRM) plan of LGUs that lack disaster-resilient investments.

Meron tayong scheduled LDRRM plan review so ako mismo magsi-certify. Hindi talaga ako magsi-certify kung walang nakalagay nga equipment or something for the investment of disasters,” he said in an interview shortly after the RDRRMC meeting on Dec 7, 2020.

According to Nuñez, LGUs should be serious in investing in disaster-resilient equipment relative to identified risks in their respective localities.

“LGUs should really invest on equipment like for example kung prone ka sa landslide you have to have the proper response equipment and trained personnel,” he emphasized.

Nuñez said that LGUs can utilize their respective five percent LDRRM funds.

Yung 30 percent is allotted for the quick response fund while 70 percent goes to the operations fund. They can invest on equipment using the 70 percent operations fund,” he said.

During the meeting, several provinces presented problems they encountered when Typhoon Ursula hit the region in December.

In their report, Iloilo province noted the lack of education by LDRRM councils and committees on DRRM, especially on local response operations during typhoons.

The province also reported the lack of appreciation of Typhoon Warning Signals by the chair and members of the LDRRM councils and personnel and lack of radio communication system.

Of the six provinces in the region, Nuñez said only Iloilo province lacks an emergency operations center.

The province of Aklan also reported problems in inconsistencies, especially in reporting the number of evacuees inside evacuation centers; and late submission of progress report and final damage assessment report despite the announced deadline.

Nuñez said they will start reviewing the LDRRM plans of the provinces in the region as soon as possible.

“Every time na may mangyari, question tayo ng question wala tayong action. Kaya meron tayong action plan per LGUs. Pag ganito ang sitwasyon, paulit-ulit tayo yung mga publiko lalo na silang nalilito,” he said.

The meeting also highlighted the best practices particularly the province of Capiz which include back up communication facilities, coordination between agencies and stakeholders, massive information dissemination thru media partners, and pre-emptive evacuation.

As of January 7, RDRRMC reported that the typhoon has already claimed 29 lives in the region.

The typhoon has also affected 338,335 families composed of 1,461,165 persons.