Lorenzana: Disaster preparedness is a never-ending effort
MANILA, Philippines — Disaster preparedness is a "continuing effort" as one can never prepare enough for possible calamities, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday, February 15.
Lorenzana, who chairs the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), made the statement in a news briefing after the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill on Thursday.
"Kailangan continuous ito eh. Parang eskwelahan ito – hindi naman tumitigil ang eskwelahan na turuan ang mga nauna sa inyo at 'wag na kayo turuan (This has to be continuous. This is like a school – schools don't stop at teaching just one class). This is a continuing effort by everybody actually, not only the government, especially the communities," said Lorenzana.
Public and private employees, schools, and civil society performed the "duck, cover and hold" exercise during the drill. They headed to the designated evacuation center at the Quezon Memorial Circle after the siren rang at exactly 2 pm.
Residents were also tapped for simulated rescue operations in various earthquake scenarios like fire incidents, fallen boulders, looting incidents, and collapsed structures. (IN PHOTOS: Quezon City leads 1st nationwide earthquake drill for 2018)
NDRRMC spokesperson Mina Marasigan said government agencies hold the earthquake drill 4 times a year to continuously train people's muscle memory so that they can immediately respond when disaster strikes.
"Siguro in recent years, mas napapansin nila 'yung traffic, mas napapansin nila na nakakapagod sa init ng araw e mag-eevacuate ka, pero ngayon nagkakaroon tayo ng lessons learned hindi lamang sa ating bansa, pero kung titingnan natin 'yung ating mga karatig na bansa. Recently sa Taiwan nagkaroon ng earthquake," she said.
(In recent years, they paid more attention to the traffic [created by the drill], the exhaustion standing under the heat of the sun after being evacuated, but now, we can see lessons learned not only here in our country but also our neighbors. Recently, Taiwan was struck by an earthquake.)
Taiwan authorities said Castro died of suffocation when she crawled under a bed during the quake, and a cabinet fell and crushed the bed. Her body was retrieved froma collapsed building two days after the earthquake.
"Nakita nila na maaring mangyari ito sa Pilipinas, kaya mahalaga ngayon ang pakikiisa nila (They saw that this can also happen in the Philippines, so it's important for them to cooperate)," Marasigan said.
Lorenzana gave the drill a 9 out of 10 rating, based on the effort and immediate reaction of the participants.
"Dun sa mga involve, 9 over 10 yang mga reaction nila. But remember, during the real calamity eh sabay-sabay yan, so that time lahat na involved 'yan. Lahat magugulat, ang reaction ng isang tao o ng isang pamilya, depends on what he knows on how to react to that situation," said Lorenzana.
(For those involved, I can give 9 over 10 for their reactions. But remember, during the real calamity, everything happens simultaneously. So that time, everyone is involved and affected. Everybody would be taken by surprise, and the reaction of every person or every family depends on what he knows on how to react to that situation.)
After Quezon City showcased its disaster preparedness practices, Department of the Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año said that evaluators will submit their observations and reports to the agencies' involved.
"Lahat ng mga comments ay kukunin natin and then we will improve more. Para sa susunod na i-e-excercise natin, masagot natin o mabigyan natin ng solusyon 'yung mga makikita nating problema dito, pati communications," Año said at the news briefing.
(We will gather all the comments and then we will improve more. For our future exercises, we will provide solutions to any problems we will see here, including communications.)
He added that they will disseminate the practices down to the barangays until the practices become a natural response to the so-called "Big One" or a possible 7.2- magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)
The NDRRMC also shared that after the Quezon City drill, it looked forward to the preparation and practices of other local government units.
"This will not happen in QC alone, so we will showcase also other capabilities of our LGUs, other organizations that can help us, and other groups that need to be informed," Marasigan said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana reminded the mayors and barangay captains to encourage their communities to practice disaster preparedness.
"Dapat sila 'yung nasa forefront niyan eh. Sila 'yung palaging nagsasabi sa mga tao na gawin natin ito, magpractice tayo kung anong gagawin natin kung magkaroon ng mga kalamidad. So this is a continuing," he said.
(They should be at the forefront. They are the ones who should always tell the people to do this, let's practice what we should do when there are calamities. So this is continuing.)
The NDRRMC chief also said that everyone "should always be trying to improve the systems and processes."
On social media, the hashtag #BidaAngHanda trended online as netizens and government agencies nationwide posted photos of their duck, cover, and hold drills.
#BidaAngHanda racked up a total of 11,414,218 impressions from February 15 (8:24 am) to February 16 (12:01 am).
Below are some post of the drill nationwide:#BidaAngHanda - Curated tweets by MovePH