The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) recently held a “table-top” exercise to practice how to respond effectively to disasters.
PDRRMO chief Jeremias Alili said they drew from their experience with Typhoon Odette to identify existing challenges in their disaster response capacity.
“We want na mas tumaas ang ating kahandaan kaya nagset tayo ng isang scenario na tatama sa Palawan. Pinatawag natin ang iba’t ibang agency so that we can see kung anu-ano ang mga response action, we will consolidate it into one,” Alili said.
The exercise mainly focused on the various stages of response to a typhoon situation, including pre-activation 72 hours before, activation 24 hours before landfall, 12 hours before landfall, and de-escalation beyond 12 hours after landfall.
All of Palawan’s response and rescue agencies, like the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Philippine Red Cross, were there.
“Kung provincial government lang ay we admit na hindi kami ganon kalakas and we have a lot of resources outside, like DPWH and PCG, that eventually help us to consolidate our operational plan,” he added.
“We can monitor ang mga resources na pwede magamit sa response kung ito ay available, serviceable or kailangan ba natin mapunan ang mga gaps so that kapag tumama nga ang bagyo ay mayroon tayong pwedeng magamit,” Alili said.
Currently, they are in the process of setting up a radio communications backbone that would enhance that communication with the different municipalities through the MDRRMOs.
“Marami tayong learnings sa nagdaang bagyo. Sa communication dapat may Plan A, Plan B and Plan C tayo. Ang redundancy ng communication ay mahalaga, isa ngayon ay ang establishment ng provincial radio communication backbone at dito naglalagay tayo ng [mga equipment] para ‘yong mga munisipyo mabilis makacommunicate sa atin,” he said.
“Sa ngayon ay nadu-duplicate na natin ang ating communication system,” Alili said.
Alili said the exercise would help to strengthen the capacity and capability of the province to cope with super typhoons.
This also allowed them to identify possible resources from other agencies such as the Department of Public Works in Highways (DPWH) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).