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55 Bicol LGU’s bag Gawad Kalasag award

By Bobby Q. Labalan

SORSOGON CITY --- Only 55 out of 120 local government units (LGUs) in Bicol Region qualified for this year’s Gawad Kalasag (GK) Award which recognizes exemplary efforts on disaster risk-reduction and management (DRRM).

The Office of Civil Defense- Bicol (OCD-Bicol) bared the list during the formal awarding ceremony held December 1 at the Oriental Hotel in Legazpi City.

OCD-Bicol Regional Director Claudio Yucot said 102 LGUs submitted for evaluation but only 55 qualified, nine of them were classified as “Beyond Compliant” while the other 46 were classified as “Fully Compliant”.

“Beyond Compliant” are those who exceeded the parameters set by the OCD in evaluating the LGU DRRM performance while “Fully Complaint” are those who have fully completed the requirements upon evaluation, the OCD director explained.

Yucot said other LGUs have not submitted for evaluation despite OCD’s efforts to encourage and assist them in complying with the requirements. “LGUs have been doing what is required of them, it’s just a matter of documenting their efforts.”

Despite this, however, the OCD director was elated by the huge increase in the number of LGUs that qualified this year compared to only 12 the previous year.

The GK Award was established in 1998 by the Department of national Defense in recognition of exemplary performance and initiatives by LGUs and other stakeholders in promoting and implementing disaster reduction and management as well as climate change adaptation.

“Gawad Kalasag has played a pivotal role in raising awareness about the importance of community involvement in disaster resilience. It recognizes the significance of grassroots initiatives and highlights the indispensable contributions of local stakeholders. By empowering communities with knowledge, skills and resources, Gawad Kalasag has enabled them to take ownership of their safety and well-being, creating stronger and more resilient nation as a whole,” Yucot said in his message during the awards rite.

The DRRM is one of the areas being evaluated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the grant of the most coveted Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG), an award being bestowed on LGUs who have shown excellent performance on various aspects of governance.

The list of this year’s awardees for “Beyond Compliant” includes the provinces of Camarines, Masbate and Sorsogon, Legazpi City. Ligao City and Iriga City and the municipalities of Pasacao (Camarines Sur), Bulan (Sorsogon) and Bulusan (Sorsogon).

Those awarded for being “Fully Compliant” were Albay and Camarines Norte provinces, Tabaco City, Masbate City and Sorsogon City and the municipalities of Daet, Jose Panganiban, Basud and Vinzons (Camarines Norte); Baao, Bombon, Buhi, Bula, Calabanga, Minalabac, Balatan, Cabusao, Libmanan, Pamplona, Camaligan, Presentacion, Tinambac, Nabua, Bato, Lupi, Magarao, Ocampo, Ragay and San Fernando (Camarines Sur); Baras,Pandan,Panganiban and Virac (Catanduanes); Aroroy, Milagros, Mobo and Pio V. Corpuz (Masbate); Barcelona, Castilla, Irosin, Juban, Casiguran, Donsol, Pilar and Santa Magdalena (Sorsogon) and Camalig, the only town in Albay which qualified for the award.

Of the six Bicol provinces, only the province of Catanduanes failed to qualify for the award, while among cities, only Naga City was excluded.

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary Raffy Alejandro, who used to head the OCD-Bicol and was the guest of honor during the ceremony, said that the OCD would try to devise a system to include the barangay LGUs in the awards saying there used to be an award for best barangay DRRM practices before GK was reformatted under the DRRM law.

Under the present scheme on disaster response, it is the barangay LGUs who act as frontline responders while municipal DRRM office only lends support or second responders and the provincial DRRM office comes in when both lower LGUs have done their shares.

In an interview on the sideline of the awarding ceremony, Alejandro said that what complicates the inclusion of the barangays in the GK award is its huge number nationwide totaling more than 45,000 barangays.

This could, however, be remedied by putting up a system whereby the assessment would be done by the municipal government and validated by the provincial government, he explained.

Alejandro also said that they were proposing for a cash incentive for GK awardees to further encourage more LGUs to step up their efforts on the disaster risk-reduction and management.

“What we would like to propose is for qualified LGUS to have access to certain NDRRM fund as a sort of incentive for their compliance which they can use for their DRRM activities,” he said.

Alejandro explained that the GK used to be a mere search for best DRRM practices but since the passage of Republic Act 10121 or the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, it has become mandatory as part of the SGLG.

WINNERS ALL Sorsogon awardees led by City Mayor Esther Hamor pose for posterity with Office of Civil Defense and Department of the Interior and Local Government officials during the awards ceremony. Seated (left to right) are Casiguran Mayor Minez Hamor, Barcelona Mayor Cynthia Falcotelo-Fortes, City Mayor Hamor, Assistant Secretary Raffy Alejandro, OCD-Bicol Director Claudio Yucot,NEDA-5 Assistant Regional Director Edna Cynthia Berces, Juban Mayor Gloria Alindogan, Pilar Mayor Caroline Sy-Reyes and Sorsogon City Councilor Tess Gonzales. Standing behind Director Yucot is Bulusan Mayor Michael Guysayko while behind Mayor Alindogan is DILG Regional Director Atty. Arnaldo Escober. BOBBYQLABALAN

The award aims to recognize best practices as well to promote full compliance by LGUs on the mandates of the DRRM law and make them models for other LGUs to emulate in implementing programs and activities.

One of the main requirements for the award is the creation of the DRRM office and allocation of enough funding for the required positions, Alejandro said, adding that there are still a lot of LGUs who do not have DRRM officers.

With the Mandanas Ruling which significantly increased the budget, the LGUs must invest on the DRRM, Alejandro stressed.

The Oriental Hotel hosted the Gawad KALASAG (KAlamidad at Sakuna LAbanan, SAriling Galing ang Kaligtasan) Seal for Excellence in Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) and Humanitarian Assistance awards, where 55 local government units (LGUs) in the Bicol Region were recognized.

Claudio Yucot, the Bicol regional director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), highlighted that GK acknowledges outstanding efforts, motivating LGUs to proactively prepare for disasters.

Yucot emphasized the impact of the award, stating, “GK motivates others to follow suit and contribute to the collective goal of building resilient communities. The award has significantly improved our ability to combat disasters, saving countless lives and minimizing the impact on our infrastructure and economy.”

The LGU awardees include nine ‘Beyond Compliant’ and 46 ‘Fully Compliant’ recipients, showcasing their commitment to implementing effective Disaster Risk Reduction and Management programs. This marks a notable increase from the previous year’s 12 awardees.

Gawad KALASAG, as a symbol of determination, resilience, and progress, reinforces the dedication to enhancing strategies that effectively mitigate disaster risks.

Among the ‘Beyond Compliant’ awardees are the provinces of Camarines Sur, Masbate, and Sorsogon, along with specific cities and municipalities in Albay, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon.

The list of ‘Fully Compliant’ awardees extends to various cities and towns in Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon provinces.

The annual Gawad KALASAG, initiated in 1998, recognizes stakeholders promoting and implementing DRRM, climate change adaptation, and humanitarian assistance programs.

The awarding ceremony was attended by Civil Defense Deputy Administrator for Administration Assistant Secretary Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV, OCD Bicol Regional Director Claudio L. Yucot, and the four Vice-Chairs of the Thematic Pillars.


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