(Photo from Gov. Daniel Fernando Facebook Page)

Palawan’s disaster management officials have expressed grief over the death of five rescuers in Bulacan who perished while responding to distress calls during the worst of Super Typhoon Karding’s onslaught.

Jeremias Alili, chief of the Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said that as they grieve with the bereaved families of the five rescuers, they have left many lessons, particularly for the rescuers.

Responders, according to Alili, have saved many lives during disasters while remaining underpaid and unappreciated.

“Mula doon sa pagpapaabiso na mag evacuate na hanggang doon sa paghingi ng mga rescue, ganoon ‘yong ginawa ng mga responders natin noong Odette. In fact, hindi nga sila well-compensated and well-appreciated. Hindi matutumbasan sa tingin ko ‘yong ginagawa nila na makapagligtas ng maraming buhay,” Alili said.

“Sinasabi siguro natin minsan na nagtatrabaho lang naman ‘yan kapag may calamity but doon pa lang sa mga trainings na ginagawa nila para maabot ang ganoong skill ay buwis buhay na kaya sana matumbasan ang effort at sacrifice nila,” he added.

Despite the tragedy and the risk they were taking with their lives, Alili vowed to continue their mission to save lives.

“Ngayon, ganun din ang feeling namin [nalulungkot,] but we will continue recruiting volunteers na mga may ganoong klase ng puso at request lang talaga natin sa government ay tumbasan ng recognition, kaakibat na benefits itong mga volunteers natin na nagsa-sacrifice,” he said.

This, according to Alili, echoes the sentiments of the country’s DRRM workers.

“Ganoon din ang feeling namin kapag may volunteer or rescuers na napapahamak, nasasaktan o nawawala, ay apektado kami, actually, lahat ng DRRM sa buong bansa ay halos pareho ang nasa sa loob namin,” Alili added.

The PDDRMO chief revealed that many Palaweños volunteered to serve as responders despite the inadequate funding.

Alili also stated that rescuers are more confident in their abilities to save lives if the tools and other equipment they require are of high quality.

“Kami sa DRRMC, most of our workers ay hindi sapat ang protection, kagaya kami wala kaming hazard pay unlike any other agencies ay kami wala. ‘Yon ang mga clamor namin dito but natutuwa kami kasi dumarami ang mga DRRM volunteers sa Palawan,” he said.

“Dapat talaga isa alang-alang ang safety ng mga rescuers, ikalawa ay hanggang maaari ang mga equipment namin ay ‘yong hindi binili lang kung saan-saan kundi dapat reliable, hindi namin iaasa ang mga buhay ng mga responders natin sa mga gamit na hindi naman certified then pangatlo pataasin ang culture of safety as soon as possible sa bawat opisina,” he added.

Earl Timbancaya, chief of the Puerto Princesa City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO), also stated that everyone should prioritize safety, especially during unforeseen events.

He stated that they can happen to any rescuer at any time, which is why their families require the community’s help to cope with what happened to their loved ones.

“I’m speaking in behalf ng mga kasama ko and one thing na nakuha talaga namin dito ay talagang we should give emphasis to safety. Although may mga trainings at matagal na ang iba sa ganito ay ang mga unforeseen instance ay [nakakalungkot]. Mga loved ones din ang mga responders natin, may mga pamilya din ‘yan,” Timbacaya said.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.