Country braces for La Niña

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FULLY aware of the devastating effects brought by heavy rains due to the La Nina weather phenomenon, the national government is asking the local government units to undertake disaster preparedness measures.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier announced the official start of the rainy season, which is expected to last until October or November.

PAGASA particularly warned the provinces of Isabela, Quezon, Samar, Leyte, Surigao, Agusan and Bicol of the developing La Nina.

With this, Secretary Mel Senen S. Sarmiento of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is calling on all LGUs to prepare under Operation Listo.

Operation Listo is an advocacy program of the DILG which aims to strengthen disaster preparedness of LGUs using the whole-of-government approach.

Its first component called Listong Pamahalaang Lokal was launched in 2014 which institutionalized local protocols for disaster preparedness, response and monitoring.

In a directive, Sarmiento urged all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and DILG regional directors to take precautionary measures in their respective areas of responsibility.

“LGUs are encouraged to convene their respective Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils to prepare a La Nina Action Plan; closely coordinate with PAGASA for timely weather updates and with the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau for adequate information on the threat of flooding and rainfall-induced landslides within the respective LGU,” said Sarmiento.

He also directed LGUs to regularly submit a status report to the DILG, through its Field and Regional Offices, on all La Nina related incidents, including planning, preparations and general assessments.

Sarmiento also reminded LGUs to implement the early preparedness actions listed in the Operation Listo manuals for hydro-meteorological hazards namely the (1) checklist of critical preparations for mayors, (2) checklist of early preparations for mayors, and (3) checklist for municipal local government operations officers, chiefs of police, and fire marshalls.

These manuals lay down disaster preparedness minimum standards before, during, and after a disaster.

Last month, outgoing President Benigno S. Aquino III led the DILG’s launching of two new components of Operation Listo: the Listong Pamayanan and Listong Pamilyang Pilipino.

Listong Pamayanan is a capacity development intervention that started from LGUs and to be cascaded to the community; and the Listong Pamilyang Pilipino focuses on the family and household level preparedness.

In Listong Pamilyang Pilipino, the DILG partners with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in distributing “Gabay at Mapa”, a family guide to action before, during and after a disaster.

It requires families to make a household plan determining their evacuation routes, family meeting points, and safe places in their home. (OpinYon)