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BasCOMNET holds Disaster Preparedness Forum in Basilan

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The Basilan Communicators Network Inc. (BasCOMNET) conducted on Thursday a forum on disaster preparedness in Basilan to update the different government agencies and non-government organizations on the state of disaster preparations of the province.

In his lecture to some fifty agency representative members to BasCOMNET, Engr. Allan Labayog of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismography (PhilVolcs) underscored that the level of awareness and logistics spell out the readiness of a particular organization, and in this case, the local government unit in disaster preparation.

He said that Basilan has been dealing with human-induced disasters like the armed conflict, but when it comes to natural disasters, he asked participants if Basilan is ready. He repeatedly asked the question of readiness to the participants as he explained the vulnerability of Basilan, as an island, to be struck with great natural disasters, like earthquakes and tsunamis.

Labayog explained the origin of Basilan as a volcanic island, which makes the island as a volcano itself in the real sense. He said that he did not mean to scare Basileños of this reality but to alert the people and the authorities on the very high possibility of a natural disaster that everyone must be prepared for.

Basilan, he said, sits in between two active trenches—the Sulu trench and Cotabato trench. Historical facts reveal that at one point of our history, violent earthquakes in these two trenches triggered tsunamis and destructions to life and property.

Every September 21 of every year, Isabela City is commemorating the rising of water (“Terremoto”) and the miraculous events attributed to its patron saint, Santa Isabel de Portugal. Historians believed that this celebration may have its roots at the September 21, 1897 tsunami, triggered by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake at the Sulu trench. On August 17, 1976, another destructive tsunami occurred as triggered at the Moro Gulf, near the Cotabato trench.

He said that there is reason to be alarmed and be alerted by these events because they were the last recorded destructive events in these two trenches. It was some 115 years ago for the Sulu trench and some 36 years ago for the Cotabato trench. And Basilan is only some 156 kilometers away from the earthquake generator (Sulu trench).

He stressed that everyone must be involved in disaster preparation, especially families. He said that each family must have a disaster plan too, where every member of the family must know their roles and what to do when particular disaster strikes.

Labayog said that institutions delivering basic services must be doing inventory to determine their disaster response capability. He also asked the Basilan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) to do the same.

Basilan PDRRMC point person Anwary Akalun of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) admitted that the province and most of the institutions here are bereft of equipment and logistics to elevate the province’s readiness for disasters. He said, however, that all the necessary equipment are already enumerated and incorporated in the PDRRMC Plan. But the plan is yet to be concurred and approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the Governor of Basilan.

Akalun presented to the participants the PDDRMC Plan, which was formulated by the members of the council in a recent workshop in Zamboanga City. “We have already the plan, what we need to do now is to implement the plan,” he said.

During the forum, the newly elected officers of the BasCOMNET were also inducted into office with MTC Judge Roncesvalles Filoteo as inducting officer. (Rene V. Carbayas/RVC/PIA9-ZBST)




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