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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Everyone should be involved in disaster preparedness – Vice Mayor Iturralde

By Dominic I. Sanchez

ZAMBOANGA CITY – “Being prepared for disasters should be everyone’s responsibility,” declared Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde Saturday to local multi-sectoral representatives that included barangay officials, academe, business sector, government offices and the police.

“Disaster risk reduction and management needs all sectors of society, and everyone should be proactive,” he added. Iturralde emphasized that “nobody knows the precise time when disasters would strike, and they pose a clear and present danger to lives and property.”

“Everyone is a potential victim,” he pointed out.

Zamboanga City, Iturralde said, has been proactive in its disaster-mitigating plans through the creation of a disaster risk reduction and management office headed by Dr. Elmeir Apolinario. However, he emphasized that despite this, all sectors should take active part since the responsibility does not only fall on government alone.

On Saturday (February 28), representatives from the different sectors converged at the Centro Latino in Paseo del Mar here for a forum on disaster risk reduction and management, organized by students of the Western Mindanao State University -College of Public Administration and Development Studies (WMSU-CPADS) in coordination with the City Public Information Division.

The forum speakers, which included Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Assistant Regional Director Jose Eric Castillo and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief Engr. Allan Labayog, all emphasized that people should best be prepared for disasters, particularly the looming effects of climate change that is attributed to be the main cause of abnormal weather patterns. In addition, Castillo and Labayog emphasized the need for preparedness for the “big one,” referring to an earthquake of great magnitude.

Castillo stressed that the communities, down to the family level should have their own disaster preparedness plan. “We just have to adapt to the ‘new normal’,” he said.

Sheila Covarrubias, Public Information Officer and forum chairperson emphasized that “numerous threats, including man-made and natural currently beset the city,” hence the “forum is intended to be an information and education campaign advocacy with the ultimate goal of mitigating disasters’ impact.”