Issue of August 18, 2013
Mt. Province

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Use of "force" mulled to compel evacuation from danger zones
by Harley F. Palangchao

Reeling from the devastation brought about by Typhoon Pepeng in 2009, a councilor in La Trinidad, Benguet proposed a policy that seeks to authorize the mayor to order forced evacuation in times of disaster.

Councilor Roderick Awingan explained in his proposed measure that forced evacuation aims to protect lives than for concerned agencies to be responding when disasters hit communities.

The councilor said the measure was proposed after he noted there are still areas where evacuation is difficult to implement especially during rainy season, leaving residents literally waiting for disaster to happen inside their homes. These areas were not mentioned.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has already furnished local government units of geo-hazard maps so that these LGUs will incorporate it in their comprehensive land use plans and as basis for concerned agencies or offices in pre-emptive or forced evacuation during disasters.

In its earlier geo-hazard reports, the MGB has identified the Shamolog Creek in Pico as one of the geo-hazard sites in Benguet. The site of the huge mountain slide in Little Kibungan in Puguis was also identified to be geo-hazard.

“The Municipality of La Trinidad is highly concerned with and committed to protect the lives of its residents at all times as well as mitigate the effects of man-made and natural disasters,” Awingan’s proposed measure reads.

If approved by the municipal council and signed by the mayor, the measure allows the chief executive to mobilize the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Publics Works and Highways, and other concerned agencies in carrying out the evacuation.

The proposed measure, meanwhile, cited it supports the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which upholds the people’s constitutional right to life and property, by addressing the root causes of vulnerabilities to disasters, strengthening the country’s institutional capacity for disaster risk reduction and management and building the resilience of local communities to disasters including climate change impacts.

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