THERE is no doubt that our country, particularly our local government units (LGUs), has improved disaster management now compared to some 10 or 15 years back.
The management system that includes the tapping of Quick Response (or Calamity) Fund, the established evacuation centers, the operations of local disaster management councils, and the interventions from concerned national government agencies has proven to have a huge difference in dealing with all sorts of calamities and disasters, including the eruption of Taal Volcano.
As it is supposed to be a “living” or dynamic system, it should be continuously enhanced by drawing lessons from our experiences.
The current Taal Volcano eruption presents valuable lessons for the improvement of disaster management in our country.
While LGUs are prepared with their respective evacuation plans and centers, the same appear to be limited to the evacuation of some residents in their respective municipalities and cities. It also appears that there is no plan for cases when the whole municipality or city needs to be evacuated.
Where will the residents be evacuated if the evacuation center in their municipality is also not safe?
The evacuation of residents from towns within the 14-kilometer danger zone of the Taal Volcano was obviously not as “organized” as it should have been as they were brought to different evacuation centers in neighboring towns and provinces.
Such situation causes difficulty for officials of concerned LGUs in responding to the needs of their constituents. The efficiency of relief work is obviously affected not to mention the additional costs of the same.
The current Taal disaster management, particularly the matter of residents of one municipality evacuating to another municipality, also brings to light the need to define the roles and responsibilities of both the “victim” LGU and the LGU that hosts the evacuees.
Is the host expected to use its resources for the needs of evacuees? To what extent should it use its resources? In the case of the Taal Volcano eruption where a more destructive eruption in the coming days, weeks and months cannot still be ruled out, how should the host LGU manage its resources to ensure than when it becomes a “victim” as well should another eruption occurs, it still has the resources for the needs of its constituents. Where and when should resources from the national government come in to ensure that needs of all affected Filipinos are responded to?
With the resilience and strong bayanihan spirit of Filipinos, there is no doubt that we can rise above any disaster or calamity – and we can perform better with a continuously improving disaster management system.