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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Metro Manila’s frontliners in disaster emergencies

Due to the Philippines’ location in the Pacific Typhoon Belt, an average of 20 typhoons enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) annually. In the past two weeks, parts of the country experienced heavy rainfall and strong winds from Typhoons Egay and Falcon.

Metro Manila was not exempted from these weather conditions as floods filled the streets and threatened residents’ safety. Fortunately, they weren’t left to fend for themselves as responders in office addressed their concerns.

Yet although the national government makes numerous efforts to safeguard Filipinos during natural disasters, they don’t always act first.

According to the 1991 Local Government Code, local government units (LGUs) must be at the frontline of emergency measures in disaster aftermaths to secure their constituents’ general welfare and supervise preparations and responses to natural calamities and human induced-disasters.

Malabon Mayor Jeannie Sandoval pushes for a Drainage and Ticketing System across NCR

Their role as first responders prompts them to proactively perform disaster-related activities, from preemptive evacuation to restoring people’s livelihoods.

In the past weeks, various Metro Manila LGUs leveraged their online platforms to keep their constituents updated about the weather advisory, with some also monitoring flooding in numerous areas of their jurisdiction affected by the extreme weather conditions. On the other hand, some LGUs tapped into their resources to offer further assistance to the Filipinos affected by the typhoons’ impact.

For instance, the city government of Manila, through the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO), offered free transportation to help commuters travel through a specified route and keep them safe from the flood in those areas.

Another initiative from the Manila government is cleaning mounds of trash across the streets of Manila to prevent its build-up that could worsen flooding within the city.

Caloocan Mayor Along Malapitan (leftmost, seated) discussing possible resolutions to the ongoing flooding issues in Quirino Highway

Since flooding also affects traffic flow, delaying vehicles from one point to another, some LGUs in Metro Manila opted to speak with other institutions to create better solutions.

Last Monday, July 31, Caloocan City Mayor Dale Gonzalo “Along” Malapitan met with representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) to discuss possible resolutions to the ongoing flooding issues in Quirino Highway.

Even though Malapitan recognizes DPWH’s responsibility in maintaining national highways, he stepped in due to the inconvenience and possible danger it poses to residents in nearby areas. In the meantime, he instructed the Caloocan City Engineering Department to conduct dredging and similar activities to help alleviate the flooding in said area.

The Navotas city government took a similar route of keeping their structures functional to keep the streets from flooding. The city has operational pumping stations to keep the city’s drainage system clean, helping floodwaters subside faster.

Navotas Mayor John Rey Tiangco visiting a flooded area to oversee possible solutions and expedite the process

Just across the river, the Malabon LGU, specifically the City Engineering Office, cleaned their Milagrosa Pumping Station to ensure its seamless operations.

In the meantime, Malabon Mayor Jeannie Sandoval met with the MMDA to discuss the possibility of having a Drainage and Ticketing System across NCR, giving importance to establishing a Rain Catchment System in preparation for El Niño, among other concerns.

Each city has its own way of addressing the flooding issues that affect everyday Filipinos through projects and programs that cater to the city’s conditions. Whether through free transport services, clean-up drives, provision of hot meals and other necessities to the underserved communities, and more, they make sure their constituents feel their initiatives and benefit from their disaster risk reduction and management efforts.

Thanks to the proactive Metro Manila LGUs, headed by their respective mayors, their constituents know that during natural disasters and emergencies, they have someone they can count on to champion their well-being and promptly address concerns about their safety and security.

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