Albay has security, health covered as Palaro draws near
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – As the provincial government of Albay gears up for opening day of the 59th Palarong Pambansa, strict security measures are already enforced for the safety of more than 20,000 student-athletes from 18 regions.
In a meeting at the Office of Civil Defense on Thursday, April 7, presided over by Albay Governor Joey Salceda, it was announced that strict security and contingency measures have been laid out to ensure the safety of delegates for the country's biggest sporting event.
Government assets from land, air, and sea are in place in the event of any untoward incidents, while traffic rerouting will also be done on Sunday, April 10, as the week-long event commences. (READ: Inside the main venue days before Palarong Pambansa 2016)
"We are well-prepared when it comes to traffic. We've been practicing this for two months already," Salceda said during the Palaro press conference on Tuesday, April 5.
"Legazpi is just a city with 240,000 people and you can just imagine suddenly you have 40,000 from outside Bicol and 120,000 from inside Albay descending upon you. We're preparing really for the number of visitors that will reach 160,000."
Salceda also said that 2,227 policemen from the Philippine National Police will be assigned to the youth games happening from April 10 to 16. Albay is hosting the games for the first time.
There will be a total of 2,527 policemen, with every 4 athletes having one officer assigned to them. He also said there will be 828 emergency responders ready to assist. For every 16 athletes, there will be one dedicated responder.
"We've been declared development-ready by the Armed Forces of the Philippines," Salceda said in response to a question on the peace and order situation in Albay.
"We have continuing programs with the AFP. We are very aggressive in terms of programs with the PNP and the AFP to address the development concerns of the people. Walang dahilan para magkaroon ng gulo sa Albay (There's no reason for disorder in Albay)."
A bomb simulation was also conducted Thursday, April 7, at the primary venue, the Albay Sports and Tourism Complex.
Medics and health stations are posted in every billeting area across the province to ensure the safety and welfare of student-athletes, coaches, and guests. Hospitals and medical facilities are also on code white, affirming the province's readiness to attend to the health and concerns of its guests.
Salceda shared how a delegate from Region IX was already operated on for appendicitis without any expense.
"Tuwang-tuwa siya kasi yung kwarto niya doon sa government hospital ay parang kwarto sa Makati Med (He was happy because the room in the government hospital was like a room in Makati Med)," Salceda said.
"Naka-code white kami (We're on code white). It's as if there's a typhoon but in a positive way," he added.
Billeting quarters have also been fumigated, according to Salceda, to avoid diseases such as dengue, Zika, and chikungunya.
"We did our best that is humanly imaginable to ensure that this is the safest Palaro," Salceda said.
"We also did what is touristically imaginable to ensure that they will always love Albay." – with reports from Jane Bracher, Rhaydz B. Barcia, and Randall Matthew Lorayes/Rappler.com