Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas lauded local officials who worked round the clock in leading their constituents to safer grounds before the onslaught of typhoon Glenda, saying their efforts were responsible for low casualty rate during the calamity. “Binabati ko ang mga lokal na opisyal sa kanilang maagap na pagtugon sa panawagan ng ating pamahalaan na maging handa laban sa ano mang uri ng kalamidad. Ang mababang bilang ng casualty ay isang indikasyon na tayo ay unti unti nang nagiging handa,” said Roxas, who is vice chairman for preparedness of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

At the same time, Roxas expressed sympathy to families and friends of the fatalities who according to latest NDRRMC count has reached 51. “Ako po ay nakikiramay sa mga kababayan natin na nawalan ng mahal sa buhay at patuloy po tayo na nanawagan sa ating local government units na kumilos para hindi lang paigtingin ang kanilang mga disaster risk reduction plans kundi para gawing mas maayos at mas ligtas ang mga komunidad na kanilang nasasakupan,” the DILG chief said.

Roxas said that “one death is one too many” and local government units (LGUs) should work harder to achieve the “zero casualty” target of the NDRRMC, of which local DRRMCs are part of.

He cited as an example the provincial government of Albay which again achieved “zero casualty” owing to its effective disaster risk reduction and management plan that was put into place by the local officials and the people in so-called disaster-prone areas. The disaster-readiness of Albay and other LGUs in the Bicol area, he said, is something worth emulating. Recently, Roxas distributed to members of the League of Municipality of the Philippines – Luzon Cluster the LGU Disaster Preparedness Journal – A Checklist of Minimum Actions for Mayors prepared by the DILG to serve as guide to local chief executives to help them prepare against the impact of climate change-triggered natural calamities.

According to Roxas, LGUs are mandated by Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 as “first responder” to ensure the safety and resiliency of communities in facing the challenges of disasters. The “Checklist of Minimum Actions for Mayors” calls for the creation of the local disaster risk reduction management structures and systems to be mobilized before, during and after natural calamities; institutionalize policies and plans; enhance competency of the structures through various trainings; and compliment the competency by purchasing and preparing the needed hardware and supplies. (PR)