Increase capability of LGUs as first responders in times of calamities

Bersyon sa Filipino.

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Senator Bongbong Marcos flew to Tacloban to assist in giving aid to the victims of typhoon Yolanda and to assess the damage to infrastructures as Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Works.

Amid the destruction caused by typhoon “Lando”, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today called for additional resources to local government units (LGU’s) to improve their capability as first responders during times of calamities.

Marcos said that based on experience many of the areas devastated by calamities are isolated for a few days and the people would depend on what meager resources are available to survive before help arrives.

He noted that help from outside arrived only today in the town of Casiguran, Aurora which was isolated when typhoon Lando made landfall there early Sunday. Radio reports said practically all of the structures in the town were damaged.

“With the weather condition improving, I hope the government can improve the pace of relief operations for those in evacuation centers and the rescue operations for those still trapped in flooded areas,” Marcos said.

“The sooner help arrives for typhoon victims the better. If our LGUs have better disaster response capabilities, relief would come faster for victims of typhoon Lando and they won’t need to wait until help from the national government arrives,” he added.

Marcos has been pushing to increase LGU shares in the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) from the current 40-60 sharing in favor of the national government to an even 50-50 share. He said part of the increase in IRA share of LGUs can be devoted for disaster response preparedness.

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“Any additional resources that we can give to the LGUs can certainly go a long way towards helping them improve their disaster response capabilities and allow them to bring help faster to the people affected by calamities,” he said.

He pointed out that in times of calamities the LGUs are the first responders providing immediate assistance for rescue and relief. But while some LGUs have greatly improved their disaster response capabilities but many other LGUs have not, simply because they lack the necessary resources.

As an example, Marcos noted the radio interview today of Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, where the secretary hoped other provinces can follow the example of Isabela in their disaster preparedness and response that minimized typhoon casualties in the province.

Among others, Sarmiento noted that Isabela not only acquired equipment for disaster response and trained their first responders but also adopted appropriate policies such as alcohol ban during storms and advanced distribution of relief goods in areas the typhoon is predicted to hit.

Marcos noted that the suffering of the people of Casiguran is similar to the experience of the victims of super-typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban, Leyte and nearby areas.

“It took the national government several days before it could send help. We had to bring in bulldozers and equipment just to clear the roads and bring relief goods. Many of the victims told us we were the first ones to arrive there to bring help,” he recalled.

He said that with increased resources for disaster preparedness and response adjacent LGUs that did not sustain damage can provide faster assistance to damaged areas until help from the national government comes in.

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