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Rough Cuts | Time for a city-operated radio station

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 or running the radio facility.

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