Ayala Alabang preppers | Inquirer Opinion

Ayala Alabang preppers

EVEN before the enactment of Republic Act No. 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) law, Barangay Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa City had been planning and implementing its disaster management plan.

Ayala Alabang Village is fortunate to have the village association, the Parish of St. James the Greater and the barangay in a single land area.

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It all started in 1995 when Msgr. Gerry Santos, then parish priest, asked me to prepare a plan to help the parish and the surrounding communities meet the expected challenges of destructive typhoons due to the La Niña phenomenon.

Trisector group

FEATURED STORIES

We convened a joint meeting among the parish, the village association board of governors and barangay officials, resulting in the establishment of ABC, a trisector organization of Ayala Alabang Village Association, Barangay Ayala Alabang and the St. James the Greater Church to plan for disaster response, relief and rehabilitation.

I was designated executive director of the St. James Emergency Assistance Council, which was established to be the implementing arm of ABC-Tri Sector Organization to harness and orchestrate the material and human resources of ABC.

Relief goods

Initially, the residents were involved only in the collection and repacking of relief goods for distribution to residents of the flooded barangays of Muntinlupa along the shores of Laguna lake. Debris clearing inside the village was conducted by personnel of the infrastructure and maintenance department, and security personnel of the barangay and the village association.

Soon, other parishes across the country began asking for assistance from ABC and relief goods were sent to Mindanao parishes in coordination with nongovernment organizations. Eventually, residents joined relief convoys to Pampanga, Pangasinan and Quezon province.

In 2000, a benefit concert was held at St. James the Greater Church to raise funds for distribution to widows and orphans of soldiers of the Special Forces and Scout Ranger Regiments killed in action in Mindanao.

Field exercise

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A month before Typhoon “Milenyo” struck in 2006, I conducted a disaster-preparedness field exercise to determine the level of capability of the barangay and the village association.

The participants of the exercise were all the service support groups in the barangay, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Lifeline Clinic in the village, the Red Cross, Armed Forces of the Philippines reservists in Ayala Alabang and Alabang Hills, and members of the 131st Infantry Reserve Division as umpires and officers, and enlisted personnel of the National Capital Region Command of General Headquarters of the AFP as observers.

As a result of this exercise, more disaster response equipment were purchased and the response personnel, vehicles and equipment were deployed.

Operational sectors

The 700-hectare village was divided into operational sectors for more efficient disaster response. These operational improvements were used to full advantage when Milenyo hit Metro Manila.

The glaring lesson learned from this exercise was that due to the wide area of the village, the barangay and village service support groups would not be adequate to respond to a destructive earthquake that would isolate residents in their streets.

Empowering citizens

In 2009, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” that dumped record rainfall volume in 24 hours that inundated the metropolis, I was invited by then Sen. Rodolfo Biazon to be a resource person during the crafting of what would become the PDRRM law. I supported the provision that ordinary citizens, in aid of the local government, should be empowered to prepare for disasters in their communities.

With the enactment of RA 10121, local government units were able to spend their allocated and appropriated emergency funds even before the occurrence of a disaster.

Response, rehab

In 2010, Barangay Ayala Alabang met with various sector representatives of the barangay to identify the risks posed by various disasters and to assess preincident, response and rehabilitation capabilities.

The population of Ayala Alabang village is estimated to be 40,000 plus several thousand nonresident students of several schools in the village and projected additional residents of condominiums under construction outside the village but within the jurisdiction of the barangay.

Handbook

In 2012, as provided by RA 10121, Barangay Ayala Alabang submitted the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan to the city government. However, in spite of the printing of a Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Handbook, residents were generally unaware of individual and group actions required of them during a disaster.

With this realization, I was invited by ABC in 2013 to develop a plan that would empower and actively involve the residents in disaster risk reduction and management.

When the government launched its public awareness campaign about the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study of 2004, it was realized that the ordinary citizen was not prepared for a destructive earthquake.

Personal responsibility

We cannot prevent the so-called Big One nor do we know when it will hit. The ordinary citizen must prepare now and not rely on government response. Survival is a personal responsibility.

There must be leadership in chaos in each and every street in each and every barangay in the Greater Metro Manila Area. This can be done by organizing a Family-based Street Level Disaster Preparedness Program.

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TAGS: disaster preparedned, disaster reduction, Earthquake, quake, Recovery
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