Cebu City’s disaster chief: We need a command center

CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter December 04,2020 - 07:35 PM

Floodwaters in Barangay Bacayan, Cebu City on Sunday, October 5 | Photo courtesy of CCDRRMO

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) is appealing to the City Council to approve the P120 million budget needed to build a new command center that can also house other emergency-response related city offices.

CDRRMO officer-in-charge for administration, Ramil Ayuman, said that the condition of the current office at Barangay Mambaling is already dilapidated with leaking roofs and the occasional rodent visitors.

Yet the CDRRMO continues to function quickly responding to incidents ranging from the usual motor vehicular accidents on the streets to landslides in the mountain barangays and flash floods in the riversides and lowlands.

Ayuman said that in order for the CDRRMO to function better, it needs the capability to collect, store, and analyze data of calamities, accidents, and other incidents in the city.

Currently, the dilapidated office of the CDRRMO is not fit for such functions, limiting the capability of the city’s main emergency response team to respond quickly to the incidents all around the city.

“We need a decent command and control system being the Queen City of the South. The building will be four-story where all emergency responses including the fire department, traffic, barangay responders, even the Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) is willing to upgrade our control system,” said Ayuman.

The CDRMMO chief faced the City Council’s committee as a whole for the budget hearing on December 4, 2020, to explain their proposed budget for 2021, including the command center.

The command center was among the promised projects of Mayor Edgardo Labella when he ascended into office in July 2019, but the budget has been deferred twice because the City Council did not see the necessity of the project especially during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Two areas are being mulled for the site of the command center, either along Natalio Bacalso Highway or at Block 27 in the North Reclamation Area.

Councilor Alvin Dizon during the hearing expressed doubts if the P120 million should immediately be approved for the annual budget and if it can be divided into phases instead.

The councilor said that with the ongoing pandemic, the aid to affected communities and the pandemic response, in general, must be prioritized above infrastructure projects.

However, Dizon clarified that he supports the project for a new building and a command center for the city, but he is requesting a phase by phase allocation instead to reduce the expenses of the city amid the pandemic.

For his part, Ayuman hopes the City Council will understand the urgency of the need for a new command center because it will only benefit the city if the emergency response is well coordinated in times of disasters, calamities, and even pandemics./rcg

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TAGS: Cebu City, COVID-19, flash floods, landslides, new command center, pandemic, quicker emergency response, Ramil Ayuman

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