MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday urged local government units to heighten their disaster preparedness efforts ahead of the onslaught of Typhoon “Rolly”.
“Hindi na kailangan aantayin mo yung bagyo bago mag-evacuate lalo na sa mga low-lying areas sa eastern seaboards natin (There is no need to wait for the typhoon before implementing evacuation especially in low-lying areas in our eastern seaboards),’’ Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a radio interview.
Citing the importance of full preparedness, Año said the damage to properties can be repaired but lost lives can never be revived.
“Importante talaga safety muna yung mga kababayan natin. Yung puwedeng tamaan ng typhoon surge at pagbaha, landslide at erosion, safe dapat muna sila from those. ‘Yung mga property wala tayo magagawa diyan, talagang sisirain yan ng bagyo pero kaya naman ma-repair (The safety of the public is of primary importance. Those who will be affected by the typhoon surge, flooding, landslide, and erosion should be safe first. Properties will surely be destroyed by the typhoon and we cannot do anything but we can still repair them),’’ he added.
He also assured the LGUs that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has built separate evacuation centers and quarantine facilities for Covid-19 patients to allay fears of the spread of the virus.
Año noted that empty quarantine facilities may be used to temporarily house the evacuees.
“Ang mga eskwelahan puwede natin magamit, provincial gymnasium puwede rin natin magamit pero higit diyan nakapag-prepare naman tayo (We can utilize the schools, We can also use provincial gymnasiums but what is important is our preparation (for disasters),’’ Año noted.
He said the country has regional and provincial evacuation centers that were built specifically for disaster safety purposes.
With the blended learning scheme imposed in the pandemic, Año said more schools are available for the evacuees.
He added that the Department of Education (DepEd) has been amenable to this set-up since this is part of the joint memorandum agreement among the DILG, DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH).
Año said the relief goods are already “pre-positioned” with the mayors and governors on stand-by.
He said it is a grave offense for the mayors and governors to be absent in their respective jurisdictions during calamities as this is strictly specified under the agency’s Operation: Listo.
Last year, the DILG presented the revised manual for LGUs or the Operation LISTO Manual, which contains preparedness action plans in dealing with the impact of weather disturbances on the country.
DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the LISTO manual version 3 contains not only the checklist of mayors, DILG field officers, chiefs of police, fire marshals but also provides authority to local chief executives to undertake preemptive or mandatory evacuation when necessary and other measures on preparedness and response that LGUs must undertake depending on the alert levels.
The DILG, through its Local Government Academy, has developed Operation LISTO, a national advocacy program for disaster preparedness and disaster risk management at the local level, which advocates disaster readiness not just of the LGUs, but also of the communities and families at the household levels.
In its latest weather bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Rolly, packing maximum winds of up to 165 km. per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 205 kph, is expected to further intensify before hitting the Aurora-Quezon area by Sunday or Monday. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan /PNA – northboundasia.com