ILOILO CITY—Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said her department is constantly intensifying preparations for disasters.
In an interview, Taguiwalo said the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Disaster Response and Management Bureau (DREAMB) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) are organizing several meetings among the different clusters to review and improve preparations in case a 7.2-magnitude quake hits Metro Manila.
“Just last week, the DSWD had its own earthquake drills. The exercises are being done again because we cannot predict when an earthquake comes… What is important is we are prepared for it,” she said.
The social welfare chief noted that part of the enhanced preparations will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte during a cabinet meeting to ensure that enough safety measures and response clusters are in place.
As vice chair of the response cluster under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the DSWD is tasked to provide immediate assistance to the disaster-affected population.
Its immediate responses were seen during the occurrence and aftermath of typhoons Lawin and Nina, and the recent earthquake in Surigao.
“We preposition goods, mainly family food packs as well as non-food items. We convene the response clusters for search and rescue operations; the education sector; the health sector. I think we’ve done pretty well in terms of storms and typhoons. But an earthquake is difficult because you cannot forecast it,” Taguiwalo said.
Incidentally, she said, disaster resiliency is included in the series of discussions of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Council (ASCC) so that ASEAN member states would be ready, responsive and resilient when disasters — natural or man-made — strike.
The DSWD has led the March 6-9 meetings of the ASCC Council and the Senior Officials Committee for the ASCC (SOCA) here.