IT IS heartening to note that global organizations, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Tokyo-based Asia-Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management have put Bicol, particularly Naga City, in their radar in finding or formulating better ways to counter the impact of natural disasters while instituting resilient and sustainable platforms to save more lives and properties in case the next disaster strikes.
Bicol, despite its rich natural resources, is located within the storm’s path, prone to floods, and lies along the so-called Pacific ring of fire that sends us volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, the latter taking place only last weekend with epicenter in Catanduanes at Magnitude 6.
The impact of every typhoon and flood that hit Bicol more than a dozen times every year has been enormous, with many lives and properties lost, including widespread destruction to social, government and private sector infrastructures.
Last Tuesday, consultants from the International Labour Organization collaborated with the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) through its Bicol chapter to conduct a workshop on the role of business organizations in creating a culture of resilience and preparedness against conflicts and natural disasters.
As pointed out during the workshop which was participated in by various representatives from employers’ and workers’ organizations, government, and development agencies, ECOP is going beyond the traditional private sector role of merely making donations after every calamity or disaster. Because disasters impose major threat to enterprise survival, it is best that they are equipped with basic knowledge and prevention tools so that they will be able to rebound quickly, resume normal operations, and restore jobs, especially for displaced persons and families in affected areas.
The Naga workshop in particular seeks to prepare business owners and managers for natural hazards and disasters, ensure their commercial viability if a hazard strikes and have in place the necessary protection for workers to avoid such hazards or more damage to happen in the first place.
ILO is one of the leading international agencies assisting emergency relief efforts and helping affected workers develop new skills. It continues to engage in such initiatives to build more disaster-resilient workplaces and communities. It helps, too, that Naga City is one of the pioneer cities in the country to have established its own community resiliency council.
ECOP, on the other hand, including its local chapter here, promises to accelerate efforts to ensure their members and other key stakeholders gain wider opportunities to tap into more information services and training related to disaster preparedness and business continuity planning, while further promoting the incorporation of disaster risk reduction as an integral part of enterprise strategy.
Earlier, the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management, or A-PAD Metro Naga Chapter, whose lead convenor here is the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI), a three-time outstanding local chamber in the country awardee, has been endorsed to be expanded as A-PAD Bicol, covering a regional territory.
The positive development came after A-PAD executives in both Manila and Tokyo took notice of the local chapter’s dynamism and laudable track record when it ably managed the collection and distribution of relief goods using local manpower and resources in selected towns in Camarines Sur during the last typhoon and the recent eruption of Mt. Mayon. A-PAD banked on putting up mobile kitchens in evacuation sites to provide hot meals to Mayon evacuees out of the donated food items.
With MNCCI as one of its key partners, A-PAD Bicol has joined various activities aimed at strengthening the capability and resiliency of stakeholders by mainstreaming climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in social development. These efforts, like the ILO initiative, are all directed to building the disaster resilience of MSMEs and the communities where they are located, through training programs and workshops. It is re-asssuring enough to know that Naga and Bicol sit conveniently on sustainable resiliency platforms that are being supported by prestigious international organizations.