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Caraga region unprepared for quakes

Local government units in Region 13 have yet to map out disaster preparedness plans for a massive earthquake that could hit the southern region, the director of the local Office of Civil Defense admitted over the weekend.

Blanch Gobenciong told GMANews.TV local governments don’t have contingency plans and emergency response measures. There is also no inventory of power generators to address a possible power failure after an earthquake.

“Under an earthquake contingency plan, local government units are trained how to organize emergency response teams, [know] which places are safe, where to evacuate, how to tap standby power generation sets, whom to call for immediate rescue, and where to bring the wounded and casualties," she pointed out.

Based on a hazard map of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, fault lines pass through Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Butuan City.

Gobenciong further admitted that her office lacks the manpower to train local governments in setting up contingency plans. The Caraga region’s Office of Civil Defense only has four personnel, including the director.

While her office has spearheaded earthquake drills in major schools four times every year, she said “these are not enough because there is really a dire need to conduct the drills at the barangay level, especially in populated villages located in fault line zones."

Gobenciong said her office’s disaster risk reduction plans with government agencies such as the Education and Interior and Local Government departments, the police and military were still being crafted.

She also admitted that disaster coordination with other agencies were still in the planning stage. — BS/SMD/NPA, GMANews.TV

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