By Mar Jay S. Delas Alas
BATAAN—Can this province surrounded by water finally surface and grab its first disaster resiliency plum?
Josefina Timoteo, head of Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), prays so as Bataan, which saw record-high floods in recent years, is seeking to win its first Gawad Kalasag.
She said the province will first compete in the regional stage with hope of qualifying in the national level of the country’s premier annual awards for excellent contributions on disaster risk reduction and management.
“This is a challenging part for us since it’s our first time to join Gawad Kalasag. I think our entry is ready to be submitted and I hope we win and advance in the national level,” Timoteo said.
Bounded by West Philippine Sea at west and the Manila Bay at east, the peninsula of Bataan suffered its worst flooding in history last year when water reached up to 10 feet high in low-lying areas brought by Typhoon Josie and the Southwest Monsoon.
People evacuated in rooftops and houses were inundated by flood aggravated by mud during the July 2018 onslaught that prompted a province-wide state of calamity.
Baring plans for purchase of more rescue equipment and vehicles, Governor Albert Garcia led relief efforts together with local officials and nongovernment organizations.
The public turned to social media in blaming for the high floods the alleged cutting of about 5,000 trees for the widening of Roman Expressway, which the provincial government refuted.
During the recent first quarter PDRRM Council meeting held in Balanga City, Timoteo enjoined local response councils to share best practices in proving the province as a resilient community.
“We are also encouraging our local councils in the municipal and barangay level to send your entries as well. We could also vie for other categories such as best school and best hospital in the region,” Timoteo said.
Gawad KALASAG, which stands for Kalamidad at Sakuna Labanan, Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan, recognizes exceptional contributions of DRRM practitioners, groups or institutions in promoting and implementing significant and gender-sensitive response programs, climate change adaptation programs and innovations that build long-term community resiliency. To date, two provinces in Central Luzon, namely Bulacan and Pampanga, have won the national accolade.