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PIA Press Release

PGMA sanctions use of police power to force evacuees from disaster-prone areas

Move aimed at 'zero casualty' during typhoons"

Cebu City (5 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has authorized the use of police power to force the evacuation of residents in vulnerable-disaster areas during typhoon and heavy downpours to ensure 'zero casualty' as the death toll wrought by recent Typhoon Ondoy climbed to over 250.

The most recent typhoon with code name "Pepeng" that ravaged most of Northern Luzon has recorded 17 deaths.

National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Chair and Defense Sec. Gilberto Teodoro Jr. in a directive to all disaster coordinating councils nationwide reiterated the 'zero casualty' policy during calamities as he said the President has sanctioned the use of police power to prevent loss of lives.

The NDCC directive stated that Pres. Arroyo has given the go-signal on the use of police powers to force the evacuation of residents living along riverbanks, low-lying areas, mountain slopes and other vulnerable areas during typhoons and heavy downpours.

Teodoro directed all disaster coordinating councils from Metro Manila down to the regional and local councils as well as the regional centers of the Office of the Civil Defense and other deputized civil defense coordinators to ensure the implementation of response preparedness measures in their areas of responsibility and more importantly to prepare their constituents for the next typhoons.

Response preparedness measures include the prepositioning of response assets, stock piling of food and, identification of evacuation centers and the implementation of pre-emptive evacuation.

Teodoro said much remains to be done in ensuring 'zero casualty' in times of calamities, particularly during slow onset disasters such as typhoons and other weather disturbances. A case cited was the occurrence of Tropical Storm 'Egay,' a relatively weak weather disturbance that primarily affected Region 8 in the Visayas and yet caused the untimely deaths of 12 victims.

The 12 casualties who were residing along riverbanks and other vulnerable areas to flooding and landslides showed that land use and zoning regulations have not been strictly implemented in said areas, this is said.

Teodoro however, said the NDCC recognized the efforts of the disaster coordinating councils in managing peculiar conditions in their areas but that necessary actions must be done in order to prevent any casualties in times of disasters or calamities by conducting vulnerability assessments of areas that are prone to hazards.

The NDCC Chairman added that these assessments will be made as basis in prioritizing forced evacuation of residents living along identified hazard areas. Likewise, the assessments will also be the basis of evacuation plans and management of designated evacuation centers.

"Let us adopt a more proactive stance in managing situations in our respective areas to achieve 'zero casualty during calamities," Teodoro stressed.

Meanwhile, the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC-7) has activated its operations center 24 hours as part of its disaster preparedness especially with Typhoon 'Pepeng' expected to hit the country tomorrow. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Typhoon 'Pepeng' could develop into a super typhoon.

The RDCC-7 is also opening its communication lines to accommodate relatives of victims of Typhoon 'Ondoy' who may wish to find out any information regarding their affected kin through the NDCC.

Cebuanos also responded to the call of Typhoon 'Ondoy' victims in need of food, water, clothes and other basic necessities as more and more material donations flooded the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-7) as one of the drop-off points.

The RDCC-7, Association of Regional Executives of National Agencies (ARENA-7) and the Association of Government Information Officers (AGIO-7) urged its members who also quickly responded to the call and gave used clothing among other material donations to the typhoon victims in Luzon.

Cebu's business sector also gathered their donations that included cash aid for the victims while various media outlets likewise conducted their own 'relief aid' drive for the typhoon victims while the Aboitiz Shipping Lines (Superferry) provided free transport of the relief aid to Manila.

Fr. Carmelo Diola, overall coordinating steward of the Christian movement 'Dilaab' said one good thing that surfaced in the aftermath of the calamity is that "a nation of compassionate people may be emerging" as "seen in the stories of heroism and inspiring action in the spirit of volunteerism" of which it is the first step. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]

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