Quake and tsunami drills strengthen resiliency of Sarangani coastal towns

15 Nov 2018
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MALAPATAN, Sarangani (November 15, 2018) - Sarangani continues to strengthen the resilience of its coastal towns amidst angst brought about by the tsunami triggered by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Palu, Indonesia recently.

With this, Sarangani and Malapatan’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices in partnership with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) conducted a combined earthquake and tsunami drill timely with the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) last November 5.

PDRRMO Operations Section Chief Robert Lubonting said the drill targeted an impact scenario of an 8 magnitude earthquake triggered by nearby Cotabato Trench.

Sarangani, as a coastal province, according to Nane Danlag, Science Research Assistant of PHIVOLCS, is “prone to tsunami na pwedeng ma-trigger galing sa Cotabato Trench” at approximately 5.6 meters height or as high as a two-storey building.

In the case of Malapatan, some 16,000 residents in its coastal zone are placed at risk, hence they were enjoined to participate in the drill.

Other coastal towns of the province are likewise at risk considering the similar geographical setup of Palu, Sarangani and General Santos City. Hence, in Sarangani, the administration of Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon has strengthened the disaster preparedness of its component municipalities.

OCD 12 Assistant Regional Director Jerome Barranco explained the drill was to “raise awareness of the people on the hazards ng earthquake at saka tsunami, kung ano yung mangyayari at ano ang maidudulot nito na pinsala sa mga tao at sa mga properties.”

Barranco said they also wanted to test the effectiveness of Malapatan’s contingency plans on earthquake and tsunami and the organizational structure of the MDRRMO which serves as the center of communication, coordination and command.

The Incident Command System was also applied as the ground response mechanism, according to Barranco, to evaluate how quick responders respond to the incident.

He cited the importance of “commitment, cooperation, and support of the council member agencies” which he said was very evident in Sarangani. “They also have a good communication system using radio kasi cellphones could break down anytime especially on earthquake situations… and it (system) is also province-wide, nakahook-up s’ya sa province.”

The effective disaster response system of the province, he said, has made it consistently the Best Prepared PDRRMC in Region 12 from 2014 to 2017.

Barranco also recognized the active participation of response agencies like the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Malapatan, among others.

BFP Malapatan Officer-in-Charge SF03 Mario Ante said aside from the mission of firefighters to suppress and prevent the outbreak of destructive fires, they are also actively involved in conducting emergency medical and rescue services.

He said their involvement in the drill demonstrated their role in actual response to occurrence of disasters in terms of rescue missions where he stressed “ang mga personnel namin ay laging handa 24/7. Equipped ang ating mga personnel na mag-conduct ng rescue operations” as they are trained on EMS.

He also emphasized the value of information dissemination “para alam ng mga tao ano ang gagawin nila just in case may earthquake or tsunami na mangyari.”

His office, he said, has also been conducting fire and earthquake drills in schools and communities within their area of responsibility to educate the public on preventive measures and what to do during disasters.

According to Barranco, the drill in Malapatan was a ceremonial kick-off of the NSED incorporating earthquake and tsunami drills into one activity. Three other Sarangani coastal towns though already underwent the same drills but did not coincide with the NSED.

Meanwhile, Lubonting said the PDRRMO is now trying to consolidate action plans of two related hazards for a more effective disaster management with the help of the OCD. (Beverly C. Paoyon/SARANGANI COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE)

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