COMPOSTELA VALLEY PROVINCE -People participation in preparing for disasters as well as rigorous implementation of local disaster plans are the best ways to combat future disasters. This was affirmed by local officials and residents alike who experienced the intense ferocity of Typhoon Pablo in December 2012.

The community should be involved in problem and project identification. The participatory community-based approach must be employed for them to appreciate their role in governance. They should be made aware of their responsibility and involvement in the plans. Transparency here is crucial too. The community down to the family must know what their government is doing, underscored Engr. Lolito P. Campos, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator of New Bataan.

Beverly Jane B. Dela Peňa, New Bataan Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer pointed out the importance of preparedness. “We have to be ready with our early warning and communication facilities as well as our data. We should activate our housing council, revisit our zoning plan, enhance our systems like our records and database. We also need to strengthen the MDRRMC and BDRRMC.”

Appropriate handling and coordination with disaster responders like the international NGOs and other humanitarian communities must also be learned by the affected communities like theirs, she noted, adding that they were so overwhelmed by the droves of them entering their town and the nature of assistance they brought.

Virgie G. Madino, 23, of Sitio Plateau, Barangay Andap said, “We have to prepare food or canned goods because whenever we need to vacate our place, we are always ready. It’s not good judgment to mount your preparation during the actual occurrence of disaster.”

Building up

We need to be always prepared. We now conduct Disaster Preparedness and Management training in every barangay. Almost done now, UNDP is assisting us in formulating the CLUP (Comprehensive Land Use Plan) on which our disaster plan will be anchored, shared New Bataan Mayor Lorenzo L. Balbin Jr.

More than 2400 families in New Bataan lost their homes and nearly 2000 perished while some went missing.

For Mayor Eutropio S. Jayectin of Montevista, for people to really assimilate the lessons and attain genuine change, “We need to demonstrate to them what to do and as leaders, we have to set a good example.  We should be prepared always and follow policies as well. For instance, we have been bracing our communities’ capacities in disaster response to really build resilience. If people will not participate, it’s useless. We cannot achieve anything.”

Compostela Valley Governor Arturo T. Uy pushed, “Disaster preparedness should be done as well as MGB zoning as to what areas should be ‘no build’ and should be vacated or those ‘high risk’ places. All must be trained to understand and heed public warning like that of PAGASA. Active and continuing collaboration between national and local governments is an edge too. But foremost, we need to improve and be more prepared since climate change is a reality.”

Protection of the environment should be prioritized too, he urged, adding that, they can work on improving more so they will be more prepared and more capable to confront future disaster experience.

“After Typhoon Pablo, we were exposed to many things like camp coordination and camp management. It was an eye-opener, prompting us that we should always be on our toes, prepared and doing our part also,” said Josephine M. Frasco, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer of Compostela Valley.

Through its myriad of programs and projects, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will continue to involve and empower people in the community to help them overcome the onslaught of future disasters. (DSWD)