Stronger local-national coordination needed in Zamboanga for disaster measures

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By Karel B. Mellanes

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Closer coordination between local, regional, and national disaster risk reduction councils is needed to strengthen program implementation in the Zamboanga Peninsula Region, according to an education official.

At a meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC)-Region 9 here last Tuesday, Assistant Regional Director Pedro Melchor M. Natividad of the Department of Education noted the absence of the DRRM focal persons at the city and municipal levels.

“However good our efforts and presentations, when the local government units (LGUs) are not here to learn about these, how can they be addressed?” Mr. Natividad said.

In attendance during the meeting were some 30 members of the council, including representatives from the Department of Science and technology, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, members of the security Task Force ZambaSulTa, regional police, and non-government organizations.

Mr. Natividad suggested that the council come up with a resolution that will establish closer collaboration with the LGUs and the communities.

At the meeting, spearheaded by the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD)-Region 9, the council members presented their respective accomplishments and ongoing programs.

“This activity would also strengthen the implementation of the DRRM system in the region through the partner stakeholders’ future plans for this year,” said Emilia V. Julhajan, OCD’s officer-in-charge regional director.

Ms. Julhajan explained that the meeting was intended for the NDRRMC members as the local DRRMCs hold their own meetings.

For this year, Ms. Julhajan said they are encouraging council members to participate and put forward nominations to the National Gawad “Kalasag” awards, which gives recognition to schools, communities, agencies and other organizations with exemplary community-based programs on disaster risk reduction and management as well asclimate change adaptation.

“Activities like these, through information sharing and the contribution of their best practices, is the right avenue to report (the council members’) activities that are not normally reported by our agency” Ms. Julhajan told BusinessWorld.

Region 9, located in the western part of Mindanao, is composed of the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Isabela City in Basilan.