A CAPITOL official said the towns of Ronda, Dumanjug and Alcantara probably have inactive disaster risk reduction and management offices, which is why they suffered the most when tropical storm Seniang hit southern Cebu on Dec. 30.
Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Chief Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. asked if the three towns have DRRM plans and if they were able to spend funds according to the plans.
“Mas daghan pa ang mangamatay kung di active ang (Many would die if the MDRRMO is not active) MDRRMO (municipal DRRMO),” he said.
The mayors of the three towns dismissed Tribunalo’s claim. But they admitted that their MDRRMO chiefs also have other duties because the Municipal Governments do not have enough funds to have separate offices and personnel for disaster response and risk management.
Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia said that Jun Fernandez serves as municipal planning and development officer and MDRRMO chief. He said the local government has cut spending so it cannot afford to have a separate office on disaster preparedness and risk management.
Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco III said that municipal engineer Oscar Pilapil is also head of the MDRRMO.
In Alcantara town, Arturo Palencia heads the MDRRMO. He gave Sun.Star Cebu updates on the effects of tropical storm Seniang on the town.
Alcantara Mayor Beatriz Caburnay said that contrary to Tribunalo’s claim, the Municipal Government has a disaster risk reduction management plan.
“Kompleto mi ug nagtrabaho ang tanan (We have all that is required by the law and we all worked),” she said.
Dumanjug has a DRRM plan, which spells out the tasks of concerned officers.
Garcia said that town and barangay officials also underwent training on disaster preparedness and response.
He said Tribunalo was only trying to justify the Capitol’s shortcomings.
Blanco, on the other hand, said that the local government warned residents about the risk of a flood but not all heeded the warning.
He pointed out that the casualties were members of the same family that refused to leave their house. He said that the other casualties were among those who were on board a truck that got caught in the flash flood, while one man died because he refused to leave his pigs.
Blanco said Ronda does not have a disaster risk assessment plan on flood-prone areas as evaluation by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau focused on the ground slumping incidents in Barangay Vive.
Tribunalo said local government units are required to develop a DRRM plan and risk assessment study under Section 4 of the Republic Act 10121 or Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
Capitol said that the law also states that the local government unit (LGU) is primarily responsible for distributing relief aid to its constituents and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will only come in if the LGU does not have enough food packs.
DSWD 7 assistant director for operations Shalaine Marie Lucero said that they sent 1,000 food packs to Alcantara and Dumanjug, and 1,917 food packs to Barili.
She said DSWD 7 did not send food packs to Ronda yet because the Municipal Government has yet to make a request.
“For Ronda, we are still waiting for their request and we are expecting it today (Jan. 5). We reached out to Ronda since Dec. 29 and sent people there,” Lucero said in a statement.
Lucero said that under the Local Government Code, the municipal social welfare and development officer should be in the frontline of service delivery, such as immediate relief and assistance during and after disasters.
She said DSWD can assist LGUs but only after required documents have been submitted as mandated by the Commission on Audit.
She advised LGUs to request for help from the DSWD well in advance so that the agency can pre-position its relief supply.
She said the DSWD 7 is set to distribute 5,560 family food packs to those affected by Seniang in Bohol and southern Cebu.
The DSWD is also willing to provide P10,000 as burial assistance to each surviving family.
Tribunalo said that the Capitol also prepared enough food packs for those affected by Seniang in southern Cebu.
In a related development, Gov. Hilario Davide III will meet with bus company officials, LGU officials, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the PNP to discuss alternative routes in southern Cebu.
Seniang destroyed Dumlog Bridge, which connects Argao and other towns further south to the rest of Cebu, and damaged Saliring Bridge in Malabuyoc. With Dumlog Bridge being impassable, vegetables from Dalaguete could not reach Carbon Market in Cebu City.
The development means losses for vegetable farmers. Supply of fuel and other goods to the southern tip of the province has been affected as well.
Rep. Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu Province, second district) proposed that Davide ask for help from private contractors to develop alternative routes.