Bukidnon to operate province-wide Emergency Dial 117 network

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News Dispatch / Jan 06, 2011)  – The Bukidnon provincial government’s plan to operate a province-wide Emergency Dial 117 is in the drawing board, Ronelo Alvarez, provincial director of the Department of Interior and Local Government announced during the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s regular meeting Wednesday.


Alvarez, chair of the PDRRMC’s preparedness committee, said the target is for the area coordination center, as it’s initially called, to be operational in the first quarter of 2012. He added that the provincial
government will share the P20 million 117 emergency equipment, dubbed as “Emergency Network Philippines” (ENP) equipment.


The DILG described the gadget as means to “address emergencies by informing the public safety groups for appropriate and immediate rescue and assistance.”


The DILG turned the equipment over to the City Government of Malaybalay in 2007. Alvarez said the DILG regional office was supposed to run the emergency unit in Cagayan de Oro City.
“But the city government (CDO) did not accept the responsibility because of the cost to maintain it,” Alvarez told Bukidnon News.  He said DILG was supposed to operate the EPN in Cagayan de Oro as a “regional hub.” He added that it was during the previous administration of Mayor Vicente Emano when the EPN was stalled at the DILG regional office.


Alvarez said the EPN required an average monthly electricity cost of P30,000.
He added that since it was turned over to Malaybalay City in 2005, only Malaybalay was able to benefit from it.


Alvarez said the coordination of response during the Valencia City flashfloods in December showed there is a need for a lot of improvement.


“There is a long process to communicate in between local governments and agencies,” he added.
Alvarez said the province-wide network will work not only make on disaster responses easier and orderly. He said it will be used also for peace and order and public safety emergencies.


He added that the provincial government has allocated about P5 million this year to pair the EPN to equip emergency units also in its 20 towns and 464 barangays. Provo Antipasado, Bukidnon provincial administrator, said the provincial government has allotted budget for the purchase of initial 200 units of hand held radio to be distributed among barangays.


The PDDRRMC members welcomed the announcement of  Gov. Alex Calingasan saying there is a need for a good communication network especially for emergency responses during calamities. His announcement of the collapse of a dam in Lumbayao, Valencia City in a program on December 27, drew quite a stir.


Lumbayao is a village upstream to the 10 barangays flooded on December 27 in the banks of
the Pulangi River. Jimmy Apostol, of the National Irrigation Administration clarified that the Lumbayao irrigation dam, a channel that diverts and does not impound water, was intact. It was another NIA irrigation facility, a siphon near the Pulangi Bridge in nearby Brgy San Isidro that was washed out and destroyed.


Calingasan admitted that he was referring to that dam in his announcement. The announcement also caused panic in North Cotabato where the Pulangi River joins the bigger Rio Grande de Mindanao.


Capitol officials said concerned agencies should have apprised the governor of the real situation quickly as the media turns to him for updates.


Alvarez said with the EPN, communication will be made easier at the provincial level. Among the features of the EPN, according to the DILG’s guide, is accessibility to public safety organizations like the
police stations, fire departments or rescue services.


The ENP call center is also designed to accommodate two to sixteen operator positions and is assured of permanent system availability and high reliability for emergency relief services. The ENP’s computer assisted operation control, the DILG described, also simplifies the operators’ workload. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)


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