Cebu mayors pitch in

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Thursday, January 9, 2014


CEBU CITY -- The League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP) Cebu Chapter will distribute P8.6 million for disaster preparedness, as mandated by law, to 43 towns in Cebu Province, with Tuburan being the only exception.

Tuburan Mayor Democrito “Aljon” Diamante, the LMP Cebu Chapter president, said that each town will receive P200,000.

The amount, taken from the discretionary funds of Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, will be distributed during the LMP-Cebu assembly on Jan. 24.

Diamante said the mayors have realized that disaster preparedness is better than merely responding to calamities like Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last November 8, which has killed more than 6,000 persons and driven some four million out of their homes.

In all the areas Yolanda struck two months ago, local governments have so far given less than 10 percent of the total relief assistance of P1.25 billion, a report of the national disaster council shows.

About four million persons—in 890,895 families—were displaced. As of December 29, 209,695 families had received emergency shelter supplies, like tarpaulins, tents, tools and ropes, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in Wednesday’s situation report.

The NDRRMC also said that “83,638 households received support for self-recovery such as more substantial shelter repair kits, cash, and construction materials, including CGI sheeting.”

Diamante and LMP officials from Luzon had also visited Bohol towns that the M7.2 earthquake last Oct. 15 devastated and they distributed relief goods.

“After inspecting these areas, my advocacy now as president of the mayors’ league is to train municipal officials on disaster preparedness to lessen the impact of calamities,” Diamante said.

He said he excluded his town Tuburan from the distribution of funds so the Cebuano public will not think he is politicking.

“This is purely public service and I thank Governor Davide for responding to my request for funds,” Diamante said.

Former San Francisco, Cebu mayor Al Arquillano, who held a press conference yesterday about the lessons learned during Yolanda, praised Davide and Diamante for allocating funds for disaster preparedness.

Arquillano, a representative of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said that after Yolanda, UNISDR urged local government units (LGUs) to prioritize the budget for disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

“Disaster risk reduction must always be part of governance both in local and national levels, especially that we are visited by weather disturbances every year,” Arquillano said.

He pointed out that from 2009 to 2013, super typhoons like Sendong and Pablo hit the country each year.

“With these facts, we should prepare. Local officials must raise the level of awareness of the people,” Arquillano said.

Both Diamante and Arquillano met with Margareta Wahlstrom, assistant secretary general for disaster risk reduction of the United Nations, last Nov. 24.

During their meeting, Wahlstrom suggested creating an alliance of mayors and the private sector in Cebu to ensure resiliency.

Diamante told Sun.Star Cebu he is drafting the mechanics and policies on such an alliance of mayors for disaster preparedness and response.

Arquillano said that when he went to Tacloban City to get first hand-information about the typhoon’s impact, he observed that the number of casualties was high because many people did not heed the advice to evacuate and many lived in easement zones, which the law prohibits. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 10, 2014.

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