Home>Editorial>Miscellaneous>DSWD chief flies to Negros Oriental to monitor situation of evacuees, disaster response ops amid Mt. Kanlaon eruption

DSWD chief flies to Negros Oriental to monitor situation of evacuees, disaster response ops amid Mt. Kanlaon eruption

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian flew to Negros Oriental on Tuesday (June 4) morning to personally oversee the disaster response operations for families affected by the volcanic activity of Mt. Kanlaon Volcano in Negros Island.

Secretary Gatchalian, together with DSWD Undersecretary for Disaster Response Management Group (DRMG) Diana Rose Cajipe, will also attend a coordination meeting with the concerned local government units (LGUs).

Following the “explosive eruption” of the volcano on June 3 (Monday), Secretary Gatchalian immediately met with DSWD Field Office-6 (Western Visayas) Regional Director Carmelo N. Nochete and Field Office-7 (Central Visayas) Regional Director Shalaine Marie Lucero to discuss disaster response preparations while ensuring the safety and well-being of affected families in their respective regions.

“We have to show people we are on top of the situation, even before it turns for the worst. Let’s pray for the least damage, but let’s prepare for the worst,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

During the meeting, Secretary Gatchalian also underscored the need for immediate and efficient action as he directed the prepositioning of 20,000 family food packs (FFPs) each in Negros Island and Bacolod City by Thursday or Friday this week. The additional FFPs in on top of the already available good boxes from the Field Office.

Currently, there are 72,235 boxes of FFPs readily available for distribution at the DSWD Western Visayas and Central Visayas field offices.

“We have to prepare for the worst. So we have to make sure that you (concerned Regional Directors) are all connected with us (Central Office). Just keep monitoring. And I want you to be proactive. Talk to your governors regularly, talk to your mayors, talk to your congressmen,” Secretary Gatchalian instructed the DSWD Field Offices.

During the meeting, the DSWD chief also directed the concerned Field Offices to deploy their Mobile Command Centers (MCCs) to enable real-time coordination and communication among national and local government agencies.

“I-deploy ninyo ang MCC ninyo. I-deploy ninyo sa labas ng mga evac centers [Deploy your Mobile Command Centers outside evacuation centers],” Secretary Gatchalian pointed out.

MCC is the newly-procured facility of the DSWD that features state-of-the-art Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment with surveillance and communication devices, power supply, and other electronic equipment that are vital during disasters and emergencies.

Based on the June 4, 6 AM report by the Disaster Response and Management Bureau (DRMB), a total of 170 families, or 796 individuals from eight barangays across Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental provinces have been affected by the volcanic eruption.

There are 69 families or 303 individuals currently taking temporary shelter in five evacuation centers across Kanlaon City in Negros Oriental, and Bago City, La Castellana, Moises Padilla, and Pontevedra towns in Negros Occidental.

The DSWD has already provided more than Php 48,800 worth of sleeping kits to families in evacuation centers in La Castellana town in Negros Occidental.

The DSWD maintains Php2.7 billion in stand-by funds and a stockpile that are available for augmentation.

The agency official also advises the public to be vigilant and avoid the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall, landslides, and ashfall.

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