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Environmental protection key to disaster mitigation – Sorsogon municipal mayor

By Ana-liza Macatangay

MAGALLANES, Sorsogon --- Mayor Maria Elena Ramona Ragrario asserts that embracing our role as environmental stewards is important in mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change. She emphasizes that the effects of climate change, such as landslides, heavy flooding, and powerful typhoons, are directly linked to our actions toward the environment.

“We already have ordinances, but I hope that the knowledge of individuals about the environment will also be better. Most importantly, let’s fix our environment to mitigate the effects of natural calamities,” Ragrario told the Philippine Information Agency.

Ragrario, along with other LGU personnel and various stakeholders, attended the whole-day Incident Command System (ICS) Executive Course held on April 3, Wednesday, at the Sorsogon State University (SSU) in Magallanes, Sorsogon.

She said she attended the training to learn how to respond to disasters especially that their municipality is prone to various hazards.

“In the past, there were 2 landslide events due to heavy rains that caused the soil to sink. Not only that, our area is also typhoon prone. So this ICS is actually part of the MDRR naming for all executives. So there is the legislative branch, executive branch, head of offices. Civil society organizations are also invited,” Ragrario added.

The local chief executive said that during a disaster it is paramount to have a cohesive working group that will immediately assess and respond to a certain hazard or emergencies. This, she said, is the reason behind their request for the ICS Executive course from the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

Federation of Magallanes Public School Teachers’ Association (FMPSTA) President OIiver B. Lucenario, one of the participants, said that the training is relevant to teachers and students in ensuring effective emergency preparedness, response, and their overall safety within the school premises.

“Students and teachers should also learn the basics of disaster response. They should know what actions should be taken to ensure not just the safety of the students, but their own safety as well. Clear communication is also paramount in times of disaster,” Lucenario added.

Pastor Noel Cayetano of the Lamb of God Global Ministry expressed his appreciation to the effort of the LGU to invite various sectors and take part in the disaster response training.

“Other than praying, we must do our part. Most of our communities are situated in vulnerable areas. I will impart to them what I learned from this training so that they too will understand the importance of preparedness to avoid the ill effects of any disasters or hazards,” the pastor said.

Some 40 representatives of various sectors participated and engaged in discussions and exercises following each module.

Topics included an introduction to ICS, ICS organization, ICS facilities, and a module on managing planned events and incidents discussed by PIA Bicol Regional Head Ramil A. Marianito.

The ICS Executive Course given to LGU personnel or responders is under Republic Act (RA) 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) law which took effect on May 27, 2010.

“ICS is one of the flagship programs of the Office of the Civil Defense. As provided for in RA 10121, the NDRRMC memorandum Circular No. 4 series of 2012 and the Executive Order No.82 series of 2012, ICS has been institutionalized as an on-scene disaster response tool of the Philippine DRRM system,” Arnol Lista of OCD Bicol said.

Ragrario thanked the OCD for accepting their invitation and said that they would request for similar training to capacitate their responders and personnel to ensure readiness in times of any emergencies or disasters.

“Thanks to OCD. I still personally have a lot to learn about work especially with regards to response and rehabilitation. You also need long-term planning regarding disasters. Today we feel that disasters are becoming more frequent because of the climate change,” Ragrario said. PIA 5


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