PUP participates in 1st Quarter Online Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill

Jan Vincent Lanuza, News, Communication Management Office

In participation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC) initiative for disaster resilience despite the pandemic, the University, led by President Dr. Manuel M. Muhi, Executive Vice President and Chair of the University Disaster Risk, Reduction and Management Council (UDRRMC) Albert Guillo and Disaster Resiliency Center Director Ferdinand La Puebla held a university-wide earthquake simulation last March 11.

In his message of support, Muhi emphasized the importance of timely and empowering information in mitigating the damages caused by natural hazards.

“Every year, disasters and hazards, such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes, landslides have led to thousands of avoidable deaths. Information shared at the right time and effective and organized programs to mitigate and lessen the effects of disasters and hazards can be the most effective life-saving tool in such events. Informing the public and giving them the right knowledge is actually empowering them. It is a form of empowerment when it comes to preparation, mitigating the impact and responding to all kinds of disasters and possible hazards”, he said.

At the event proper broadcasted at Facebook Live and Youtube at the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) official pages respectively, they then conducted an online ceremonial pressing of the button, signaling everyone to “duck, cover, and hold.”

Prior to the ceremony, several agencies of the government also gave their insights on the importance of NSED for disaster preparedness.

Civil Defense Deputy Administrator for Operations of the Office of Civil Defense Assistant Secretary Casiabo C. Monilla, in his opening remarks, stated “Kapag nagkaroon ng pagyanig, siguraduhin na protektado ang lahat ng mahal sa buhay at lumikas sa tamang panahon. Laging tandaan, walang pinipiling oras ang sakuna. Tamang kahandaan at pagiging listo ang siyang magiging susi ng ating kaligtasan”.

Coinciding the International Women’s Month, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary and Officer-in-Charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr. revealed that women are the most vulnerable when it comes to disasters, according to a data presented by UN Disaster Risk Reduction when reporting the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in 2011, wherein 54% of the total deaths were women and children.

This statistic, he reasoned that it’s because it was them that protected the elderly and children’s lives, even more so than their own, hence stressing the importance for them to understand how to better protect themselves, saying “ang impormasyon ay makakatulong para mailapat natin ang karampatang aksyon na tutugon sa pagpapalakas ng kanilang kakayahan na mailigtas ang sarili tuwing lindol o anumang disasters”.

“Sa kulturang Pilipino, labis ang pagpapahalaga natin at pag-alala natin sa mga magulang, lalo na sa mga ina, babae, may kapansanan, at mga bata. Kung ganoon, maging hamon nawa sa atin na bigyang tuon ng pansin ang pagturo sa kanila kung paanong magiging handa kung may lindol o tsunami sa kanilang pamayanan”, Solidum said.

Echoing Solidum’s words, Commissioner-at-Large of the National Youth Commission Paul Anthony Pangilinan added that the youth and women play an integral part and it is time that they are being looked upon as an agent of change when it comes to mitigating disasters.

“Indeed, giving focus to young people and women in this year in this quarter’s NSED is pivotal, as this will lay a foundation for the exercise’s sustainability and ensure that all our efforts are adaptive and inclusive.” Pangilinan said.

Department of National Defense Secretary and Chairperson of NDRRMC and Keynote Speaker, Delfin Lorenzana reiterated how necessary this exercise is on attaining safety for self and others during hazardous situations.

“Sa kabila ng pandemiya, nararaapat lamang na ipagpatuloy ang pagsasanay para makapaghanda sa lindol anumang oras. Sa ngalan ng NDRRMC, ako ay nanawagan na sa bawat isa na laging isaisip ang mga dapat gawin bago lumindol, habang lumilindol, at matapos ang lindol. Tungkulin ng isang mamamayan na hikayatin ang kanyang pamilya at komunidad sa pagkilos tungo sa kahandaan at kaligtasan”, he said.

Beginning in 2006, the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill is a quarterly nationwide program and a mainstay of the Office of Civil Defense and served as means to teach the civilian population disaster awareness and preparedness.

Becoming aware and disaster literate

Following the 1st Quarter Online NSED, Disaster Resilience Center-PUP Director Dr. Ferdinand La Puebla, along with Communication Management Office Director Krupskaya Valila held a disaster awareness webinar for the PUPians as part of the University-wide DRRMC program.

Raquel De Leon, Research Section Head of the DRRM Development and Standard Division, Policy Development and Planning Service of the Office of Civil Defense gave a talk about “Saving Lives through Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and Better Planning”.

De Leon first made a point on what disaster is truly. She defined it as a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society and something so damaging that it exceeds a community’s ability to cope using their own resources, resulting in human, material, economic, and environmental losses. 

Then, she described the Paradigm Shift in terms of disaster risk reduction and management approach, coming from reactive to proactive and now focusing on the use of directives, skills, and capacities, implementation of strategies and policies, and lessening the impacts of hazards and disasters. The changes gave a significant drop off on the World Risk Report, placing 9th in 2020 compared to the 2nd or 3rd place finish from 2011-2018.  

To further capitalize on the now proactive approach, she presented the NDRRM Framework Plan for 2020-2030, focusing on Disaster Risk Reduction, Disaster Preparedness and Response, and Build Back Better (Rehabilitation).

Targeting Disaster Risk Reduction first, she presented the designated outcomes that needed to be achieved, with Prevention and Mitigation as its core idea.

  • Improved access, understanding, and use of updated risk information, DRR-related statistics, and research.
  • Implemented risk-centered national, sub-national, and sectoral policies, and sectoral policies, plans, and budget,
  • Increased structural integrity of housing, building, and critical infrastructure.
  • Institutionalized timely, responsive, context- and culture-specific early warning systems reaching the last mile.
  • Communities have access to effective, responsive, and inclusive social protection, risk financing and insurance mechanisms.
  • Natural resources and ecosystem integrity are improved and sustained.
  • Disaster-resilient livelihoods and business.
  • Disaster-resilient human settlements.

Officer-in-Charge of the Information and Knowledge Management Division in the Climate Change Commission, Engr. Ludwig Federigan, detailed his talk on, “Focusing on Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Towards Saving Lives”, and discussed the sharp decline in a societal perspective brought by nature, financially, economically, and environmentally and the benefits of adaptation and climate change mitigation on attaining a “qualitative life” in the midst of natural hazards and climate change.

He highlighted the importance of being “disaster literate”, where one must know and understand the risks of disasters to better prepare and become a part of the solution for disaster awareness.

“We may be vulnerable to natural hazards and the effects of climate change, but we do not have to be helpless. We must be in control, we must be proactive, we must take urgent action. We must focus on managing risks than managing disasters”.

In closing, Federigan called upon the local government and communities to recognize the dangers of the natural hazards and climate change and implement environmental policies and act on them, the government and private sector to create concrete actions and plans for the society and for the youth to help spread build a culture that is aware and disaster literate for the future generations to follow.

“We must adopt a risk-informed lifestyle, mindful of the need to reducing to life, livelihood and property”.

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