by Francis N. Tolentino
From the many crisis situations I have witnessed and responded to, from strong typhoons like Yolanda to the devastating earthquake in Bohol, I have come to the conclusion that a crucial determinant of the success of operations in situations like the ones mentioned above, is the unity and synergy between and among the instrumentalities of government tasked to manage the emergency situation. While help and support shall rush in from all corners for those afflicted by the crisis situation, the establishment of a system of coordination and cooperation between inter-connected agencies is a prerequisite in ensuring that relief support serves its purpose.
As the Overall Mayon Volcano Crisis Manager designated by President Rodrigo Duterte, I have witnessed the significant impact of fast and proper coordination among government agencies involved in responding to the needs of the people affected by the eruption. The template for crisis response and management that is now in place for the Mayon Volcano crisis situation is one that is focused on inter-agency cooperation. Local governments and the various departments and agencies team up to manage response efforts for the victims of the current Mayon Volcano eruption. Regional directors representing the various departments were designated as Camp managers for the evacuation centers within their partner LGUs. For example, the Department of Health regional director is camp manager for the evacuation centers of the municipality of Camalig. The DoLE RO5 regional director is camp manager for the evacuation centers in Ligao City. The DENR regional director is camp manager for the municipality of Bacacay, and so on. Aside from performing the regular functions of their respective departments, each camp Manager is also tasked to keep close coordination with the local chief executive of their assigned LGUs and co-lead the efforts to address issues and concerns in the evacuation centers, especially those that are related to food supply, education, and health and sanitation.The cooperation scheme described above was designed to foster deeper collaboration among local government units and, national government agencies and departments for the speedy delivery of goods and services to evacuees. The idea behind this is for all stakeholders in the Mayon Volcano crisis situation to help and support each other – to display unity of effort – in advancing the welfare of the victims as one single unit. Modesty aside, this is perhaps the first time in the history of crisis management during Mayon Volcano eruptions that an inter-agency collaboration system has been established and is actually yielding rapid and positive results.
Indeed, synergy of efforts plays a pivotal role in managing crisis situations. Cooperation and unity among agencies concerned ensure that those affected by the crisis will feel the hand of their government and the hand of God upon them in these times of distress. I implore the nation to continue praying for the safety and deliverance of our brethren in Albay.