Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bicol sweeps 4 Hall of Famer awards in Gawad Kalasag (With photo)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 4 (PNA) – Bicol has shown a high-flying exploit when it swept four of the five Hall of Famer awards in the latest national search for Gawad Kalasag (GK).

This key Bicol city went home from the awarding ceremonies at the Astoria Hotel in Pasig City Monday with two of the prestigious recognition awards for winning in three consecutive years (2013-2015) the yearly GK national search for exceptional performers in anti-disaster works.

The first is for the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) and the other is for the Oro Site Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (BDRRMC), which won the national championship crowns in the component city and urban barangay categories of the awards, respectively.

The awards, now on its 17th year, were conferred by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in recognition of the outstanding performances of local government units, including barangays, as well as civil society organizations, private and public service institutions and volunteer groups in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and in humanitarian assistance.

Launched in 1998, the Gawad (Award) Kalasag is among the national government’s mechanisms in obtaining sustained commitment and support from DRRM practitioners in strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacities of the country and communities to disaster risks by recognizing their exceptional contributions.

Kalasag stands for Kalamidad at Sakuna, Labanan, Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan.

Other Hall of Famers from Bicol are the Simon of Cyrene Community Rehabilitation and Development Foundation in the nearby Daraga town of Albay and D.Q. Liwag National High School in Vinzons, Camarines Norte which were adjudged bests among non-government organizations and rural public schools, respectively.

The Pasig CDRRMC won the fifth Hall of Fame trophy under the highly urbanized city category.

National Defense Secretary and NDRRMC Chair Voltaire Gazmin said the awards that honor the awardees’ remarkable feats in DRRM also represent the natrional government’s recognition of their “patriotic” achievements in performing anti-disaster efforts.

City Mayor Noel Rosal, who received the awards for winning the 2015 GK national championship, the CDRRMC’s third from 2013 to become a Hall of Famer on Wednesday, described it as a prestigious recognition of the city government’s continuing improvements toward perfection of its DRRM efforts.

“While we have already proven the excellence of our DRRM, our sustained obsession is focused on more improvements toward perfection not only to land in the Hall of Fame of Gawad Kalasag but also primarily on sustaining our attainment of ‘zero casualty’ and resilience in the face of disasters,” he said.

That awarded excellence does not erase the fact that any calamity remains a threat given the city’s geographical setting that is exposed to typhoons, volcanic eruptions and other forms of natural hazards so, “we work for more,” said Rosal, who also heads the CDRRMC as its chairman.

“These awards and those in the past inspire us towards ensuring further that the city is indeed a very livable place not only for Legazpeños but also for the thousands of people coming on a year-round basis to our place as tourists, visitors, students, shoppers, businessmen and delegates of dozens of national and international conventions, seminars, conferences, sports competitions and other grand occasions that choose the city as venue,” he said.

For Oro Site, barangay chairman Joseph Philip Lee said “our victory in three consecutive years stirs us a lot into strenghtening further the barangay DRRM capabilities.”

Lee said he dedicates this Hall of Famer award to all the people of Oro Site who have been very supportive of the BDRRMC in making the barangay calamity-resilient and every household disaster-ready and vigilant all the time.

Wilfredo “Pecos” Intia, the city administrator and CDRRMC action man, said the city and Barangay Oro Site won the Hall of Famer national awards because both the CDRRMC and BDRRMC achieved the national framework for disaster management required by the NDRRMC – which includes the areas of mitigation, preparedness, response and rescue and rehabilitation and recovery.

“We got our toughness against calamities from the painful lessons we’ve had from various disasters several years back—one of them was the February 1993 Mt. Mayon eruption that killed 75 villagers of the city who were caught by the sudden avalanche of super-hot volcanic materials while farming at the lower slope of the volcano,” Intia said. After that incident, the city government worked on the permanent relocation to a safer place of all residents in barangays within the danger zone of the volcano, he said. Another was from the catastrophic impact of two super typhoons — "Milenyo" and "Reming" that battered in late 2006 the city as severely as if it was the doomsday, killing over 1,200 people who were swept by the massive flashflood that hit some of its low-lying barangays. “Amid those devastating scenarios, the badly shaken spirit of the city regained its composure promptly and the herculean character its administration has developed for the local government and instilled among the governed swiftly roused back to work towards speedy recovery,” he recalled. Now, life does not only continue to bloom in this city after those disasters but has also been getting livelier and highly livable as the city administration continues to nourish its booming economy and explore more opportunities to rise high not only in DRRM but also in tourism and private business investments leading towards inclusive growth and development, he added. Apart from the Hall of Fame and last year’s GK search championship crowns, two other national winners were from this city—the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) in the government hospital category and Supt. Archilles Santiago, the former Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) chief here who was given a special award for individual heroic act. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD