Friday, July 30, 2010

Whole Year Disaster Preparedness Need


Mr. Pepito Ruiz, Chief Aklan Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council discussing the disaster preparedness of Aklan while Engr. Percy Malonesio, manager, Kalibo International Airport listens during the Kapehan.

Disaster preparedness and the status of Kalibo International Airport (KIA) are the topics discussed at the weekly Kapehan on June 24, 2010 at Smokehauz Resto & Bar. The guests are Mr. Pete Ruiz, Chief Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council and Engr. Percy Malonesio, manager, KIA.

Atty. Allen S. Quimpo reminded the public to prepare for impending contingencies because of typhoons and floods that can be destructive. Earlier at dawn (July 24), Aklan was hit by intensity 2 earth-quake. "The Philippines can not be spared by strong tremblers since geographically we are located at the Pacific rim of fire," Quimpo stressed.

Responding to calamity, Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) and Philippines National Red Cross (PNRC) gave assistance to 4,187 farmers from towns of Balete, Libacao, Madalag, and Buruanga, all hard hit by El NiƱo, revealed Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino as chairman of PNRC. Beneficiaries were given one sack of rice from an appropriation of P1.2 million from the provincial government.

Mr. Pepito Ruiz said, "July is Disaster Consciousness month. There is a need to upgrade disaster preparedness. The activities include conducting seminar-workshops and routine drills. Level of training is done at barangay, municipal, and provincial headquarters. Recent development is the establishment of per-manent evacuation and relief centers identified as accessible and spacious. To this end, Aklan Press Club, Inc. donated three sacks of used clothing to PDCC.

Engr. Malonesio informed Aklanons that KIA has a growing number of international flights and tourists for Boracay. Leading ones are Zest Air–four times a week, Spirit of Manila, Mandarin Airlines, and China Airbus–two times a week each, PAL– three times a month, Southern Airlines–two times a week, and Shanghai Airlines–two times a week.

The on going physical improvement of KIA is on a) new terminal building temporarily used for international and domestic departure area, b) old terminal building refurbished as arrival area, and c) expansion of parking area to accommodate seven aircrafts at a time.

According to Malonesio, the present budget of P15 million for funding the Instrument Landing and Takeoff is insufficient since the identified six residential buildings in the proposed site cost about P4 million each. In a related development, a taxiway will be opened in Nalook connected to KIA runway for rapid landing and takeoff. Moreover, the direction of runway expansion will be towards the Pook shoreline as originally planned. With futuristic expansion of three kilometers runway length and 300 meters wide, this could be a mega infra project destined to be one of the busiest airports in the country.

The PDCC will be upgraded as Public Safety and Emergency Office patterned after the Albay Public Safety and Management Office. It aims for zero casualty in the event of provincial disasters/emergencies. This would be a place directly under the Office of the Governor.

It should be noted that PD 1506 signed by Pres. Marcos on June 11, 1978 otherwise known as Strengthening the Philippines Preparedness, Capability, and Establishing Disaster Preparedness is neither fully implemented nor funded by LGU’s. The five percent calamity fund allocation in the annual budget is inadequate to meet contingencies. Considering the unpredictable extent of damage, the budget must be flexible as needs for more funds arise.

Although Mr. Ruiz says calamity fund of Aklan remains intact with few withdrawals due to drought, PDCC is straddled with minimal resources like competent personnel, transport vehicle, rubber/fiberglass boat and internet access. Ruiz discussed future plans to include the holding of seminar workshops to be supported with adequate money.

On the issue of new KIA terminal recently inaugurated costing some P667.5 million, its soundness is seriously questioned. Its roof is leaking, pre-departure area congested and hot and audio/communication equipment transmission at the lobby battered beyond disbelief.

Resolution of Caticlan Transport MPC requesting KIA for space in the new terminal building for its passenger vans is turned down because of over crowding. Pook Transport MPC is also eyeing for the same privilege. /MP

No comments: