AS the country beefs up its disaster response capabilities, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” C. Teodoro Jr. wants the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), one of the attached agencies under him, to act as a “bridge” between the national and local government units (LGU) in times of disasters and calamities.
“Now, on our part what we want to be is the ‘bridge’ between concerted national government assistance and efforts in all these aspects and the local government units. That is what the OCD is all about,” he said during the post-State-of-the-Nation Address briefing on July 26.
Doing this role merely means increasing the OCD’s capacity of marshaling and coordinating all efforts related to disaster response, Teodoro said.
And as of this time, the defense chief said the OCD is now “increasing its coordinative functions” to allow it to get real-time data and information needed for making critical and timely decisions in times of disasters in case LGUs are overwhelmed.
“So, what the OCD is doing is to [increase] its coordinative functions to get as reliable and timely information and analyze this in as much a real-time situation or scenario as possible for concerted efforts of the national government, in case a local government unit cannot cope with a natural or a man-made disaster,” the defense chief emphasized.
In line with this, Teodoro said the country is continuing to galvanize its partnerships with international humanitarian organizations and response agencies to beef up its response capabilities.
“That being the case, too, we continue also to partner with international humanitarian agencies and response agencies to advocate with the rest of the national government in best practices in disaster risk reduction,” he added.
However, Teodoro also maintained that the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are getting the lion’s share in terms of helping fellow Filipinos in times of disasters and calamities.
“That being said, in the DND proper, the AFP too are tasked—big share—of helping our people in times of crisis and in terms of delivering basic goods and services when communities are isolated as we see now,” he stressed.
AS this developed, Teodoro said that major gains have been made by DND partner agencies when it comes to disaster preparedness and resiliency.
These partner agencies include the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“Well, great strides have been made by our partner agencies with the primary responsibility for preparedness and resiliency, namely, of course the DILG because the first responders are the local government units,” he added.
“In case of predictive capabilities for natural calamities, a lot has been done by the DOST through Phivolcs and Pagasa,” Teodoro said.
Meanwhile, the DPWH and the DENR are doing everything possible in terms of ensuring disaster mitigation and resilience, he added.
Teodoro also lauded Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian for being one of the driving factors in improving the country’s disaster response and rehabilitation.
“To add to that, the coordination between the DSWD, of course, anchored on the much-improved predictive capabilities of Pagasa and Phivolcs, has allowed us to adequately plan beforehand and marshal our resources more efficiently in order to serve our people in a faster manner. And it is a testament to the close coordination between Cabinet members that we are able to function this efficiently,” he emphasized.
Cooperation boosts disaster resilience
EARLIER, OCD administrator, Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno, called for enhanced cooperation among the various government agencies, the private sector and the public to boost the country’s disaster resilience.
He made this comment as the country observed its 35th National Disaster Resilience Month (NDRM) in July.
The OCD chief said that a “whole of nation” approach is important in building disaster resilience.
“NDRM 2023 is a call for us to continue working to make the Signature Filipino Smile of Resilience clearly stand for our ability to mitigate, prepare, respond and recover from disasters. The time is now for us to scale up our strategies and work in surmounting the impacts of disaster through foresight and preparedness,” Nepomuceno, who is also executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said in a new statement.
With the theme: “BIDAng Pilipino: Building a stronger Filipino well-being towards disaster resilience,” the agency is advocating for a collective effort to ensure the safety of communities against disaster by promoting well-being holistically.
“Our goal is to make the annual NDRM observance bring our nation closer to the goal of building safer, climate change-adaptive and disaster-resilient communities across these islands. Our countrymen can thus be assured that we at the OCD will continue to advocate for action and cooperation from all levels of governance, community-based organizations and the public to ensure the safety, adaptiveness and resilience of every Filipino for this generation and the next,” he added.
Executive Order No. 29, signed on June 28, 2017, mandates the observance of NDRM “throughout the country through the conduct of activities relative to building of disaster resilience covering the four thematic areas. Regional DRRMCs, local DRRMCs and barangay committees are also tasked to implement activities and programs relative to NDRM.
The NDRRMC through the OCD led the month-long celebration of NDRM.
The council member agencies, regional DRRMCs and OCD regional offices have also started implementing their respective programs and activities for NDRM 2023.
TEODORO lauded all participants, both in the government and private sector, for the successful conclusion of this year’s NDRM on July 31.
This is for dedicating their resources and time in making this year’s celebration a resounding success.
“Without your unwavering support, we could not have achieved such a meaningful and impactful commemoration. This year’s theme, BIDAng Filipino: Building a Stronger Filipino Well-being Towards Disaster Resilience,” perfectly encapsulates the indomitable spirit of the Filipino people,” the DND chief stressed.
“Bida is not merely a word; it is a manifestation of our national character, our innate ability to rise to any occasion, whether it be in normal or disaster situations. It signifies the heroic actions, resilience and compassion that define us as a nation. Throughout the month, we have witnessed countless stories of heroism and selflessness displayed by our fellow Filipinos, who have acted as ‘Bida’ in their communities, saving lives, offering a helping hand, and rebuilding in the aftermath of disasters.”
He added that this year’s theme is also a reminder that resilience starts within us, within our families and communities.
And by building a stronger foundation of well-being, Teodoro said the country can better withstand the challenges that come in its way.
“In closing, let us remember that the work does not end here. Our commitment to disaster resilience should extend beyond this month-long observance. We must continue to collaborate, innovate, and advocate for strategies that build the resilience of our nation. Together, we can create a future where no disaster can break our spirit, and where the Filipino people can thrive amidst any challenge,” he added.