CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Mayor Oscar S. Moreno has urged barangay officials to enhance preparedness against disasters to avoid major loss of lives, properties and infrastructures.
Speaking during the simple hand-over ceremony of emergency equipment and orientation on emergency situation protocol at the Balay Mindanaw Peace Center, Moreno stressed that a big part of public service is to avoid the “mistake of governance that led to Sendong” in 2011.
“Good governance is not about politics; it is about giving the best service to our people regardless of political colors, which is what public service is all about. And these equipment that Balay Mindanaw are giving you today are part of your contingency measures to avoid a repeat of the mistakes of governance during Sendong,” he said.
The city’s chief executive said that Sendong, internationally known as Tropical Storm Washi, wreak havoc to Cagayan de Oro City and neighboring Iligan City on the night of December 16, 2011 because of “bad governance.”
“Years before Sendong, the city’s officials especially the city mayor, were warned about the impending disaster. They were already warned of the damage that will happen if people are allowed to continue living in the middle of the river. But he did not listen. And we know the rest of the story,” he said, referring to Cala-Cala, a sandbar that eventually became an island in the middle the Cagayan de Oro River where thousands of urban poor lived in Barangay Macasandig.
Cala-Cala, now referred to as “ground zero”, has since been re-declared as a no-build zone since the Environment department has declared it at such in the immediate years before Sendong struck down the city.
Because a disaster does not select its victims, it is up to local officials — most especially barangay officials since they are the first responder during disasters — to enhance their communities’ capacity and preparedness, Moreno said.
The barangays that received the emergency equipment that the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) through the German Humanitarian Assistance, and Johanniter International Assistance of the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe (JUH) coursed through Balay Mindanaw also have undergone the Participatory Capacity and Vulnerability Assessment (PCVA) workshop, contingency planning workshop, participatory trainings and workshops for the formulation of their respective Barangay Development Plans (BDPs) and Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Plans (BDRRMPs), that the Foundation facilitated.
Among the equipment that Balay Mindanaw handed over to the barangays are, among others, hand-held radios, laptops, and skyhydrant, a water filtration system from the Australia-based SkyJuice Foundation through the Disaster Aid International and Disaster Aid Australia.
“Thank you very much, Balay Mindanaw. Thank you for choosing our barangays regardless of colors and for helping us become resilient to disasters,” said Omar Labuntog, chairman of Barangay Lapasan, who spoke in behalf of the other barangay chairmen present.
Rochelle “Bibing” Mordeno urged the barangays to take care of the equipment and to use them to benefit their constituents, especially the most vulnerable sector of their communities.
The barangays that received the equipment are Balulang, Bonbon, Camaman-an, Carmen, Gusa, Kauswagan, Lapasan, Lumbia, Mambuaya, Macasandig, Pagatpat, Patag, Tablon Tignapoloan, Tuburan, and Tumpagon.
The hand-over of emergency equipment was part of the Community-based Health and Disaster Preparedness to Strengthen Resilience in 18 Disaster-prone Barangays in the city, a project of Balay Mindanaw under its Disaster Risk Reduction, Resiliency-building aned Emergency Assistance Mission (DR3AM) program.
The project aims at reducing the number of fatalities and economic damages in future disasters through enhanced capacities, resources, networking of decentralized government bodies, national NGO and vulnerable communities in the city towards better disaster preparedness and greater disaster resilience.
Balay Mindanaw came up with the project, which is being implemented in partnership with the City Government of Cagayan de Oro, because of the (1) continuing need to increase understanding of the barangays on the concept and objectives of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), (2) health and medical needs (2a) at Sendong relocation sites and/or strategic health centers, and (2b) increasing incidence of dengue cases, among others, in the city. (Bong D. Fabe)