Each local government unit (LGU) in the country must be equipped with a satellite phone, Leyte 4th District Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez said Wednesday, as the aftermath of Typhoon Odette uncovered many gaps in the country’s disaster preparedness.
“Yes, satellite phones for every LGU are needed, but this is not the only thing, and perhaps not even the top priority,” she said in a statement.
“We have seen that Odette has disrupted three cornerstones of local economies; namely: local roads, power and communications. Ten days after Odette, we find that the most difficult to restore is power, and this is what is going to leave long-lasting economic damage,” the lawmaker added.
In terms of communications, Torres-Gomez said that internet service providers like Globe and Smart must be mandated to develop a disaster preparedness and disaster resilience plan.
“For example, they must have alternate cell sites or back up power supply for cell sites. We have seen how the lack of internet service disrupts not only cellphone communications but more critically, it disables the use of non-cash payment transactions like Gcash, debit/credit card and even ATMs,” she said.
Odette victims have already been lining up just to buy fuel and drinking water, she noted, as limiting transactions “to ONLY paper cash just adds another layer of burden to disaster victims.”