(UPDATED) MILG mulls five field emergency centers for efficacious response to disasters

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY

The Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is pursuing its plan to put up field outfits of its Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READI) project to capacitate component provinces in dealing with human-induced or natural calamities.

BARMM spokesman and MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo revealed this on Monday, Jan. 25 as he announced the arrival that day in Sulu of READI’s packages containing rice, canned foods and other basic relief goods for flood-affected people in Jolo town.

“Our assistance to the flood victims in Jolo is now in Sulu. We hope that this year we can already construct (READI) Emergency Operation Centers in the provinces so that we can preposition goods and emergency responders in the provinces and shorten our response time,” Sinarimbo said in his Facebook post coupled with some photos.

In an earlier interview, Sinarimbo said each provincial READI center will have a new building worth over P10-million alone, equipped with complete modern facilities of global standard.

He said the field outfits will be built in the government centers of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur to ensure “close coordination at all times” with the host provincial officials and line agency representatives.

Most of the five provinces, which now comprise BARMM alongside three cities, 118 municipalities and 2,590 villages (barangays), have been reeling from havocs of intermittent calamities such as human-induced incidents from violent extremism to local clannish feuds, and natural disasters like floods and earthquakes.

Loss of lives and wastages in resources resulting from disorganized and slow response efforts had prompted officials of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to create its Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART).

Shortly after the 29-year old ARMM was abolished in 2019, succeeding BARMM officials enhanced the operations and organizational structure of the HEART program, renaming it into READI.

Unlike in the ARMM days when HEART operations were placed under the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG), BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim had tasked the MILG to administer the READI program, taking into account the nature of the ministry as a “frontline” agency to local government units in the region.

The MILG has enhanced the READI program, furthering the training of its workforce and partner sectors’ volunteers under the Incident Command System (ICS), a synergized emergency network observed in dozens of countries.

During the recent celebration here of the 2nd BARMM founding anniversary, officials led by Chief Minister Ebrahim showcased and launched the operation of two MILG-acquired modern speedboats intended to beef up the READI services.

READI program workers said they were expecting to acquire more speedboats for the dispersal of units to all five provinces.

At least five modern fire trucks would be delivered this quarter to BARMM by a company supplier, which won the prior bidding, for distribution to the five provinces, they said.

They debunked an earlier claim by a Sulu official, who opposed the popular call for BARMM transition extension, that the new autonomous government “done nothing” for his province and constituents.

In fact, they said, the BARMM government, through its READI team was the first regional entity to respond to the fire incident in Jolo that destroyed more than 2,000 houses on February 3, 2020.

“Minister Sinarimbo personally led the READI in dispersing relief goods and inspecting the fire scene with a hope for the regional government to provide possible assistance in the reconstruction efforts,” a READI worker said. AGM

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