• Local executives urged to brace for La Niña ­— DILG

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    With the start of the rainy season, Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday called on all local government units (LGUs) to carry out disaster preparedness measures.

    According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the current El Niño is already in its decaying stage and there is a possible rise of La Niña during the second half of 2016.

    PAGASA particularly warned the provinces of Isabela, Quezon, Samar, Leyte, Surigao, Agusan and the Bicol region of the developing La Niña.

    In a directive, Sarmiento urged all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and DILG regional directors to take precautionary measures in their respective areas of responsibility.

    “LGUs are encouraged to convene their respective local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils to prepare a La Niña Action Plan, closely coordinate with PAGASA for timely weather updates and with the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau for adequate information on the threat of flooding and rainfall-induced landslides within the respective LGU,” said Sarmiento.

    He also directed LGUs to regularly submit a status report to the DILG, through its Field and Regional Offices, on all La Niña related incidents, including planning, preparations and general assessments.

    Under Operation Listo, Sarmiento reminded LGUs to implement the early preparedness actions listed in the Operation Listo manuals for hydro-meteorological hazards.

    These manuals lay down disaster preparedness minimum standards before, during, and after a disaster.

    According to DILG, during the critical period when an advisory or alert is issued by PAGASA, the local chief executive should already be ready to implement the local Disaster Risk Reduction Management structures and systems to be mobilized.

    Sarmiento said local executives should also institutionalize policies and plans, build the competency of the created structures through various trainings, and then complement the competency by purchasing and preparing the needed hardware and supplies to equip the actions.

    “As the manuals say, these are done during ‘peace time’ or when there is no immediate threat of a disaster. This is what Operation Listo reminds everyone—that we must be preemptive instead of reactive,” said Sarmiento.

    “The goal is always zero casualty. The effectiveness of implementing Operation Listo is evident when we had no casualty in places affected by Typhoon Chedeng in Regions 2 and 3 including Pampanga last year,” Sarmiento added.

     IZA IGLESIAS

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