NDRRMC says it's refining SOP during emergencies

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is fine-tuning the standard operating procedure (SOP) that it implements during times of emergencies to further enhance its disaster response.

Photo from Abra Provincial Government FB Page

This was assured by NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. called for a review of the national government’s SOP during emergencies and disasters in the wake of the destructive magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Abra last July 27. The earthquake has so far affected 136,612 families or 502,462 individuals; killed 11 people and injured 574 others; and dealt at least P2.14 billion worth of damages to agriculture and infrastructure.

“Ang nakikita ko pong pinupuntohan ng ating Pangulo, gusto niya mapalakas ‘yung response system para mabigyan ng tulong ang mga kababayan (What I think Mr. President wants to point out is that he wants to strengthen the response system to immediately assist the people),” Timbal said in a radio interview over dzBB on Sunday, August 7.

‘’Yung preparations kasi natin so far, even though the system’s not perfect, ito po ay talagang gumagana para lahat ng paghahanda ay maisagawa kapag dumating ang emergency (Our preparations so far, even though the system’s not perfect, really works to ensure that all of it will be implemented in case of an emergency),” he added.

In a Cabinet meeting last Friday, Marcos said he wanted a review of government SOP during emergencies, particularly the systems for the prepositioning of relief items and search and rescue teams, as well as the establishment of communications systems immediately after a calamity to enable a swift coordination of relief operations between national and local government officials.

OVP’s relief operations for earthquake victims in Abra. (Photo from VP Sara Duterte’s Facebook page)

Timbal explained that there are customized response systems for every emergency such as the national disaster response plan for earthquake emergencies and hydrometeorological emergencies for typhoons.

“’Yung earthquake emergency po kasi, talagang paghahanda ang magagawa. ‘Yung bagyo malalaman mo pero kapag earthquake, (Preparedness is really the key for an earthquake emergency. You can spot a typhoon but an earthquake),” he stated.

Timbal explained that since the leadership at the NDRRMC level was new, there was a renewed sense of concern to revisit the preparation plan for the so-called “Big One” or the feared magnitude 7.2 earthquake that may hit the Greater Manila Area.

“Nirerevisit natin lahat ng sistema lalo na ‘yung harmonized national contingency plan for this emergency. Ang sinisiguro po ng ating Pangulo, lahat ng mga leksyon na nakita natin dyan sa Abra earthquake ay maisama sa lahat ng kahandaan sa susunod na panahon for any emergency (We revisited all the system especially the harmonized national contingency plan for this emergency. What the President wants to ensure is that all the lessons taken from the Abra earthquake shall be included in the preparation for future emergencies),” he explained.

As part of the Council’s adjustments, Timbal said they were mulling to bring back the large-scale simulation exercises of earthquake scenarios which were done in the previous years but shifted to online activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said this may be done once the in-person classes begin this month.

Further, Timbal assured that the NDRRMC will adhere to the marching orders of Marcos to the Council to strengthen its disaster management capabilities.

“Ang naging marching orders ng ating Pangulo in terms of disaster management ay siguraduhin na kapag may panganib, maialis nang maagap ang mga kababayan natin. Get them out of harm’s way (The President issued marching orders to us in terms of disaster management and foremost of it is to ensure that during an emergency, the people should be kept out of harm’s way),” he said.

“Pangalawa, kapag sila po ay nagevacuate at nasa ilalim ng pangangalaga ng pamahalaan, lahat po ng kanilang pangangailangan ay maprovide. Kapag natapos ang emergency, hayaan makauwi ang mga kababayan nang matiwasay at tulungan silang makabangon muli sa pagkasalanata na dinulot ng kalamidad (Second, if they evacuate and they are under the care of the government, all of their needs should be provided. Once the emergency is over, they should be allowed to go back to their homes peacefully and assisted in getting back on their feet from the destruction caused by the calamity),” he added.

“Ito po ay patuloy na isinasagawa at naghahanap tayo ng mga innovative na mekanismo para mas maging mahusay pa ang ating pagtulong (We are continuously doing this and we are finding innovative mechanisms to improve our response system),” he concluded.