BBM wants disaster response strategy improved
KRISTINA MARALIT AND FRANCIS EARL CUETO
The Manila Times
PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Friday called for a unified and better-coordinated government disaster response strategy. The President made the call in the wake of the magnitude 7 earthquake that rocked northern Luzon on July 27. “I think we have to review our SOPs (standard operating procedures) when there’s a warning. So, what do we immediately do when the alert is given to us? How do we pre-position the things that we will need?” he said during a Cabinet meeting. Marcos said the government should pre-position satellite phones, generators, water and other emergency resources, once a disaster alert is raised. “As we know, the very first thing that we have to deal with is really communication, to find out what’s going on where, and then doon na tayo makapag-assess, saan natin uunahin (that’s where we can assess what we are going to do first),” he said. The President also stressed the importance of having competent engineers who can spearhead clearing operations and the building of temporary structures. Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles said she had previously met with officials of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to find out if the government is ready to respond to calamities like a major earthquake. Providing an update on the July 27 earthquake, the NDRRMC said the death toll was 11, and the number of injured at 410. The latest reported casualty came from Wayangan, Tubo, in Abra. The agency said a total of 448,990 individuals or 119,730 families in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Autonomous Region were affected by the quake. Close to 2,400 people or 745 families were still staying at 21 evacuation centers, it said. The number of damaged houses went up to 30,285, with 565 completely destroyed. Damage to infrastructure was at P1,342,438,371.81. The agency said 27 cities and towns have declared a state of calamity because of the quake.