Responding to calamities
This refers to the editorial, “Need for permanent evacuation centers” (12/21/17).
It noted how “local government units continue to house evacuees in makeshift tent cities or in multipurpose halls and public school classrooms with inadequate facilities and water supply and limited space.”
In order to enhance further our disaster preparedness and response to these typhoons, I humbly offer the following suggestions, concrete and practical as they are, to cushion their negative impact:
1) Relief goods should be distributed to would-be victims before the onslaught of typhoons. It would be difficult and risky to distribute them when a monster typhoon turns communities into wasteland littered with fallen trees and electric poles, blocked roadways or landslides.
2) Incorporate disaster risk factors in comprehensive land use plans (CLUP) of local government units to analyze land use patterns of their respective areas given the LGUs’ exposure to natural hazards. CLUP should serve as a tool in decision-making by local officials concerning which areas of the LGUs are habitable and not prone to flooding.
3) Barangay, municipal or city-owned gymnasiums should be designed not only for sports activities as their main feature but to also be considered as typhoon-proof shelters for calamity victims. Strictly speaking, schools are meant for academic instruction and are not designed as safe evacuation centers.
4. When the sanggunian cannot muster a quorum during a session to declare the LGU under a state of calamity, then they could consider the “correspondence session” of the Marikina City Council as an option to be adopted. This is a special session that requires the use of cell phones while conducting a session. However, it shall only be resorted to as a last option if the council is unable to muster a quorum 30 minutes after the presiding officer called the special session to order. The correspondence session shall last at most 24 hours from the time it was called and shall be conducted only during the occurrence of disasters with the sole purpose of declaring the LGU under a state of calamity.
Others, I am sure, have their own splendid suggestions to advance. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council should solicit proposals from all sectors on how to improve our disaster preparedness and response to calamities like typhoons.
REGINALD B. TAMAYO, assistant city council secretary, Marikina City
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