by Harley F. Palangchao
TUBLAY, Benguet – The United States government is showing sincere efforts in making this province resilient to disasters and other calamities through fund support since Typhoon Pepeng that left dozens of people dead in 2009.
On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg made his second visit to the province, this time in this town to lead the inauguration of the Emergency Operations Center in the municipality, which was funded by the U.S. through the partnership of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Tublay, together with the towns of Atok, Buguias, Kibungan, and Baguio City, is covered by the Disaster Risk Reduction and Response/Climate Change Adaptation Program funded by USAID through the WFP.
The program started when former U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney visited the province after it was hit by Typhoon Pepeng in October 2009.
The first phase of the program was soon launched and was sustained during the incumbency of former U.S. Ambassador Harry Thomas.
Now on its third phase, Goldberg rallied Benguet officials, residents, and personnel of the different DRRMCs to continuously mitigate, adapt, and be ready against disasters and the effects of climate change.
“Dealing with natural disasters is a hard task especially that we are dealing with typhoons that bring considerable damage. These typhoons are increasing in frequency and severity and are not within the usual typhoon belt or location,” Goldberg said.
But the U.S. envoy said loss of lives and properties during disasters and calamities could be averted if local government units know the three basic principles, which are preparedness, adaptation, and response.
Tublay officials led by Mayor Reuben Paoad and Vice Mayor Armando Lauro are grateful for the continued support of the U.S. government to the municipality in terms of disaster preparedness.
Paoad also announced that through the program, a women’s group was trained on coffee farming as an alternative livelihood aside from preventing landslide in the municipality, which was one of the hard-hit towns during Typhoon Pepeng.
Benguet is a recipient of P17.6 million support from the U.S. program.
The funding assistance is part of the P294M the U.S. government allotted for disaster risk reduction activities in the country in 2013.
On Friday, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Brian Goldbeck announced the new USAID-funded grants worth P14.8M to support disaster risk reduction activities in five towns of the province.
Assisting Goldberg in his visit Thursday were USAID-Philippines Deputy Mission Director Reed Aeschliman, WFP Rep. and Country Director Preveen Agrawal, and WFP-DRR Program Head Onoura Daniels.