31 local government units in Eastern Visayas were bestowed ‘Kalasag Award’ by the Office of Civil Defense held on Thursday(Dec.21). Among those present were mayors of the LGUs and Rep. Jude Acidre of the Tingog party-list.
(Photo Courtesy)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Office of Civil Defense(OCD) recognized 31 local government units in the region for their hard work in the disaster risk reduction and mitigation bestowing them the Gawad Kalasag Award, now on its 23rd year.

The awarding, held at the Oriental Hotel de Leyte Thursday(Dec.21), was led by OCD-8 Regional Director Lord Byron Torrecarion and partner agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Ormoc City Councilor Lalaine Marcos, representing Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez.

This year’s awardees were the municipalities of Can-avid in Eastern Samar; Catarman in Northern Samar; and the province of Southern Leyte which received the “beyond complaint” award, the highest recognition given to the LGU.

Fully complaint awards were given to Arteche, Balangiga, General Macarthur, Guiuan, and Maydolong, all in Eastern Samar province; towns of Gamay, Laoang, Lope de Vega, Palapag, San Antonio, and San Roque in Northern Samar; Tabango, San Miguel, and Ormoc City in Leyte province; Tarangnan and Marabut, both in Samar; Bontoc, Liloan, Limasawa, Macrohon, Padre Burgos, Pintuyan, Silago, Sogod, Hinundayan, and Maasin City, all in Southern Leyte.

Also receiving the fully complaint award were the provinces of Samar and Northern Samar.
Torrecarion attributed the increase of Gawad Kalasag recipients this year to the conduct of caravan in every LGU to explain what the award is all about and its requirements.

Torrecarion said that the number of awardees this year is around 80% higher than the number of LGU awardees last year with only eight winners.

DILG Regional Director Arnel Agabe said that the increase of awardees this year is a good indicator that the LGUs are already capacitated to what are the necessary responses to do whenever there is an impending calamity or disaster.

“We know that the region is located along the Pacific Ring of fire, which means that our geographical location is prone to various natural hazards like typhoons and earthquakes. So with this, it is necessary that the LGUs are capacitated, they know what to do and the DILG is pushing for them to do a list of protocols which will guide them on what to do as preparatory actions and at the same time what they will do during typhoon,” he said.

Agabe added that the increase of Gawad Kalasag awardees is also a good indication because it also means that the recipient of the Seal Good Local Governance from the region will also increase as it is used as one of the basis or indicators to receive such an award, considered the highest recognition DILG bestow to the to LGUs.

Mayors present during the awarding shared that with the region’s geographical location facing the Pacific Ocean makes it imperative for them to be always ready to face challenges brought by natural disasters and calamities like typhoons.

“This award tells us that we are on the right track. That we are doing the correct response during times of calamities and emergency needed by the community from the government,” Mayor Roland Boie Evardone of Arteche said.

Guiuan Mayor Annaliza Kwan, for her part, said that they are thankful that their municipality received the highest recognition for disaster response and humanitarian effort from the OCD.

“Being on the location of the typhoon path, the LGU is always doing its best to be always prepared and respond to the needs of the community but capacitating, training, and educating the people on what to do as typhoon approaches,” she said.

Rep. Jude Acidre of the Tingog party-list group, in his message, highlighted the importance of coordination of all stakeholders in responding to the needs of the affected community and the importance of mitigating the risks and hazards brought by a disaster.

“As we commend your achievement we must also recognize that our work is far from over. The challenges posed by climate change, (and) rapid urbanization demand to remain vigilant and adaptive to disaster risk reduction and management,” he said.

He added that the government should continue to invest in capacity building, innovation, and cooperation at all levels to ensure preparedness for future challenges.