By John Noel E. Herrera
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) urged Local Government Units (LGUs) in Western Visayas to strengthen their disaster response and management programs during this year’s Gawad KALASAG (Kalamidad at Sakuna Labanan, Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan) awarding ceremony at Diversion 21 Hotel, Iloilo City.
OCD Rehabilitation and Recovery Management Service Director Harold N. Cabreros emphasized during the program the role of LGUs in disaster management, making sure that the community is safe during calamities “and keep them out of harm’s way or save them from any danger.”
“Calamities are trying times that not only require a heart of dedicated service, but also wisdom and clear foresight. These require prescient, strategic and decisive leadership not only from our colleagues in government but also our fellows from the civil society,” Cabreros added.
Cabreros also said that the casualties, as well as damage to properties caused by the recent disasters, showed the need to “further empower our people.”
He added that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) is working with the LGUs “to mobilize and involve all our communities and stakeholders in the national DRRM program.”
Cabreros also noted the Gawad KALASAG award means to awaken their resolution and vigor in leadership to prepare ahead “so that when the danger is upon us, there shall be no fear, only courage.”
On Tuesday, 43 local government units in Western Visayas were recognized for the Gawad KALASAG Seal and Special Awards for Excellence in DRRM and Humanitarian Assistance of the NDRRMC.
The provinces of Antique, Capiz, and Guimaras were awarded as “Beyond Compliance” for the Local DRRMC and Offices category, while the provinces of Aklan, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental were awarded as “Fully Compliant”.
Other LGUs also recognized as “Beyond Compliant” were the highly urbanized cities of Iloilo and Bacolod; the towns of Dumalag and Panit-an in Capiz; Malay in Aklan; and Bago City and Sipalay City in Negros Occidental.
While the towns of Barbaza, Culasi, Valderrama, and San Jose de Buenavista in Antique; Altavas, Kalibo, New Washington, and Numancia in Aklan; Pavia, Tubungan, Bingawan, Calinog, Dingle, Lambunao, Leon, Maasin, Mina, and Passi City in Iloilo; Jamindan, Maayon, and Tapaz in Capiz; Sibunag in Guimaras; and component cities of Silay, San Carlos, La Carlota, Talisay, and Himamaylan and municipalities of Isabela and EB Magalona, all in Negros Occidental were all cited as “Fully Compliant”.
The Capiz Emergency Response Team and the Federated Fire Volunteer Fire Brigade Inc. were also recognized as Gawad KALASAG Special Awards National Finalists.
OCD-6 also said that only 91 out of the 142 LGUs in the region joined, but only 43 were recognized.
“Some have not met the standard of the Gawad KALASAG, but it doesn’t mean that their disaster risk reduction and management does not function well since all have established local DRRM offices,” OCD-6 spokesperson Cindy Ferrer said.
OCD-6 stressed that Gawad KALASAG is not a competition among LGUs as it focuses more on their compliance based on the assessment of their structure, management systems, competencies, policies, knowledge management, and participation.
Cabreros also hoped that the awardees “may become more effective as they are tested by time.”
“Be relentless in reinventing your strategies so that they will remain always responsive to the changing demands of the DRR landscape. Cultivate the unique ingenuity of the Filipino as you develop more means to respond to the DRRM challenge,” he said.