Mindanao Times

Time for a city-operated radio station

- BY VIC N. SUMALINOG

LAST Friday, August 2, 2019, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) chief Alfredo Baloran was quoted in newspaper reports as saying that his agency is working on the improvemen­t of coastal barangay monitoring system.

The same office, according to Baloran, is enhancing its informatio­n and communicat­ion schemes so that residents in coastal barangays of the city can be easily advised on potential disasters that could hit their areas.

He also cited the difficulti­es in conducting emergency evacuation­s of people in coastal areas first because of very narrow roads and foot paths. These are hardly passable by 4-wheel vehicles that could carry a number of people and belongings in a trip. Baloran lamented the fact that there are just some residents in disaster-prone areas along shorelines that are hard-headed. They usually ignore demands by government disaster response managers to leave their residence before calamities like sea surges, flooding of river waters when heavy rains occur in time of high tide, and even fire in the coastal communitie­s occur.

The plan is very noble. And personally we welcome the same with much expectatio­n of its getting realized soonest. Also, there is strong likelihood that Davaoeños may be one with us in accepting such propositio­n.

Who will not when it is clear that the intention of the proponent agency is to ensure the safety and security of Davao City’s huge number of coastal residents when disasters hit.

We believe however, that the CDRRMO is still very much wanting in facilities for immediate forewarnin­g of people in high risk barangays of impending disasters. Yes the agency may have installed CCTV cameras in some strategic areas in the city’s coastal communitie­s. These would possibly allow the operation center of the CDRRMO to monitor tidal situations during stormy weather. These could possibly help disaster response managers to assess existing situation and execute the necessary response.

The local government may have also provided the different barangays with VHF (very high frequency) radio communicat­ion equipment that could allow immediate transmissi­on of instructio­ns when there is an incoming disastrous phenomenon, during the disaster incident itself, or immediatel­y after.

But one thing we can be certain about. The barangays do not have the facility to immediatel­y relay the warning to the people, not even in coastal communitie­s where houses are so close to each other that the door of one can be mistaken by the other.

This situation reminds us of an idea that, if we remember right, was bruited around by the chief of the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO), Ret. Police Col. DionisioAb­ude.

A few weeks back he was quoted in some local news reports as recommendi­ng to the city government to put up its own radio station. The broadcast facility will have programs devoted to disseminat­ing informatio­n about the traffic situation of city roads during certain hours of the day in order to guide motorists which route to take to avoid getting stuck in vehicle gridlocks.

Yes, we strongly support that recommenda­tion. However, we suggested that the city-operated broadcast station, should this materializ­e, be maximized it its use. We believe it would be more beneficial to the people of Davao City and even of its neighborin­g provinces and cities, if station’s day-to-day program include disseminat­ion of relevant informatio­n coming from the executive and legislativ­e department­s of the city government. Our take is that, with a city-operated radio station all ordinances and its implementi­ng rules and regulation­s (IRR) can be discussed and explained on air for the benefit of the residents who have duties and responsibi­lities defined in these local legislatio­ns.

Informatio­n disseminat­ion and education on disaster preparedne­ss, mitigation and response must be considered an important regular radio program menu. Segments on environmen­tal protection, rehabilita­tion of destroyed habitats can also be a daily fare spiced up with the city’s

weather hourly situation. This can be tied up with the local PAGASA office.

On another aspect, barangay government­s can have time slots where they can highlight their developmen­t strides, their own programs and projects so that other village leaders can learn from the experience­s being shared.

We think with certainty that using a city-owned broadcast station can transmit informatio­n and instructio­ns to target residents in barangays likely to be affected by potential or sure-to-happen disastrous incidents in real time.

Thus, the people in the communitie­s concerned, given correct and immediate informatio­n and instructio­ns could be accordingl­y guided what to do before it’s too late for them.

With this the city government can be assured that even if disasters strike as these are beyond man’s prevention capabiliti­es, the impact on the population could definitely be substantia­lly mitigated.

Yes, in the CDRRMO’s plan of improving coastal monitoring system its feedback receipt mechanism of existing area situation can be enhanced. But how about the agency’s present feed-forward system? Does it have the facility and equipment to relay informatio­n and instructio­ns to concerned residents when these are most needed?

Again, our thought is for the considerat­ion of having a city-operated broadcast station. And let the City Informatio­n Office (CIO) take the responsibi­lity of running the radio facility.

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