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An Appeal to All Voters and Candidates in the coming May 13, 2013 Local Election in Morong, Rizal

Good Disaster Management is Good Governance!


CSO participants and local government leaders in the First Morong Summit on Disasters and Climate Change

In the age of a changing climate when the New Normal is the Abnormal, when occurrences of extreme weather events like Ondoy, Sendong, Habagat and Pablo have become more frequent in our country, it is incumbent upon local governments to live up to their leading role and scale up their performance in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience.

More than three years since Ondoy flooded and devastated large parts of Metro Manila, Laguna and Rizal, including Morong, our town has made significant strides in strengthening community preparedness to disaster risks and emergencies as a result of continuous cooperation among the local government, the Morong Volunteers’ Emergency Response Team (MVERT), Rizal Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region IV-A, Oxfam Great Britain and other civil society organizations (CSOs) to mainstream the landmark R.A. 10121 or the 2010 Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act in our municipality.


What are the major gains that have been achieved by municipality in the field of DRR more than three years after Ondoy? Using the criteria of DILG’s Seal of Disaster Preparedness and other benchmarks for sound mitigation, environmental protection and WASH programs, our municipality have reaped the following gains:

What have we gained so far in DRR more three years after Ondoy?


More Than Three Years Ago


Leadership and Guide to Action Municipal Disaster Management Coordinating Council without regular staff (only a volunteer municipal disaster coordinator), budget, operations center and rescue equipment Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) with regular DRR officer, budget, operations center and rescue equipment (but no regular Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office staff)
Inadequate municipal disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) plan Sangguniang Bayan-approved municipal disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) plan that is integrated into the annual investment plan
No organized, trained and equipped municipal emergency response teams (except for the BFP, MVERT and PNP) BFP, MVERT and PNP continue to act as municipal emergency response teams since there is no MDRRMO
Poor community-based flood early warning system and protocols Community-based flood early warning systems and protocols in major flood-prone brgys
No updated database on human resource, equipment, directories, and location of critical infrastructures and their capacities Updated database on human resource, equipment, directories, and location of critical infrastructures and their capacities
No efforts to involve the community in participatory capacity and vulnerability assessment (PCVA,) and DRR Completed PCVAs in Brgys. San Guillermo, San Juan and San Pedro; 2 multi-sectoral Morong Summits on DRR and Climate Change
No clear standing policy on forced and preemptive evacuation of local residents Clear policy and procedures on forced and preemptive evacuation of local residents
No well communicated and understood multi-hazard contingency plans Flood and fire contingency plans
Operational Readiness No radio communications equipment connecting the LGU to all brgys Municipal wide radio communication system and internet access available inside the municipal building
No regularly tested early warning system with rain and water level gauges  plus audio signaling system such as use of sirens Tested river water level markers in selected areas; but no rain gauges, water level sensors and siren alarms
No fully disseminated family guide to action on warning No data
Schools, brgy halls and covered courts used as evacuation centers Covered courts and brgy halls designated as evacuation centers (schools, except for those located at Caniogan, are no longer used as evacuation centers to prevent disruption of regular classes)
Regular fire and earthquake drills limited to schools Regular fire and earthquake drills still limited to schools; no regular flood response drills in flood-prone brgys
No trained and equipped brgy disaster volunteers Organized and trained brgy disaster volunteers with basic rescue equipment (but these volunteers still need to undergo more training)
No standby rescue boats or bancas for flood rescue 3 wooden bancas and 1 rubber boat
Mitigation and Environmental Protection No clear disaster mitigation program Passage of municipal ordinances: banning use of plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam; propagation of bamboo along riverbanks
Formation of Morong River Council
Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) No WASH training for BHWs; inadequate WASH facilities and programs during emergencies Trained BHWs and sanitary personnel on WASH; basic WASH facilities during emergencies

The best way to measure the gains achieved by the municipality in DRR is by comparing the number of reported casualties during Ondoy in 2009 with Habagat in 2012. Due to improved community preparedness and emergency response, no casualty was reported at the height of Habagat in Morong, while Ondoy left a deadly trail of 4 dead, 1 missing and 12 injured persons in our town.


Still, many tasks cry out to be done to make our town more safe and disaster-resilient.

Thus, present and prospective local chief executives and councilors should not merely pay lip service to disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) in their platforms of government during the present election. More than ever, they should all work to preserve our gains and achieve more breakthroughs. In words and in deeds, they should stand as true DRRM Champions in Morong who give top priority to DRRM:

  • DRRM Champions who are fully aware of existing disaster risks facing our vulnerable communities and resource gaps plaguing our municipality;
  • DRRM Champions advancing SMARTER (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, evaluated and reevaluated) DRRM plans and programs rooted in active citizen participation;
  • DRRM Champions possessing strong political will to harness the power of the people in surmounting all stumbling blocks, even bureaucratic lethargy and political debts, if only to build the resiliency of Morong to worsening hazards and disaster risks.

It is in this light that the Morong Volunteers’ Emergency Response Team (MVERT) puts forward to all Morongueños, especially present local candidates and political parties, the Morong Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Agenda.

The Morong DRRRM Agenda is the product of MVERT’s long consultations and discussions with local stakeholders and our partners in Oxfam Great Britain’s Post-Ketsana (Ondoy) Recovery Project who recently assessed the impact of said project upon LGUs and communities in Rizal and Laguna more than three years after Ondoy.


Oxfam GB’s Post Ketsana (Ondoy) Recovery Project Impact Study held at Luxent Hotel, Quezon City last March 2013


Morong MDRRMC Meeting held at the new Municipal Building last March 18, 2013

Accordingly, the Morong DRRM Agenda is guided by the important lessons learned by people’s organizations, NGOs, LGUs and government agencies in Rizal and Laguna from their rich experiences in DRR work since Ondoy. It also adopts substantive proposals presented by key members of the Morong Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) during the council’s last meeting held at the new municipal building on March 18, 2013.

As the election campaign heats up, we at the Morong Volunteers call on our fellow kababayans to fully support the Morong DRRM Agenda and use it as a guide in measuring and evaluating candidates’ positions on DRR to separate the chaff from the grain among present political contenders in the coming May 13, 2013 local election.

More so, we appeal to all candidates and parties to thoroughly study the Morong DRRM Agenda with the end goal of adopting it as one of the main pillars of their respective platforms of government, and ultimately, implementing it as a priority program once those fortunate among them are given the opportunity to govern our municipality.

We humbly admit that Morong DRRM Agenda is never meant as a silver bullet that will completely address all our weaknesses and disaster risks. It is a work in progress. We at MVERT are always open to suggestions, improvements and even criticisms from all stakeholders, especially people at the frontlines. Still, it is better to have a roadmap in mainstreaming DRR in Morong rather than being lost and left groping in the dark in the next three years.




A.   Strengthen pro-active and leading role of Morong local officials in DRRM and their long-term political commitment to disaster resilience

As DRRM Champions, the Mayor, Vice-Mayor and municipal councilors commit to carry out and accomplish the following key tasks by the middle of their term in the first quarter of 2015:

  1. Establish a permanent Morong Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) with regular staff (DRRM Officer, Administration and Training Officer, Research and Planning Officer, Operations and Warning Officer), operations center, budget and standard equipment as provided for by R.A. 10121;
  2. Regularly convene the Morong Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) to approve, monitor and evaluate implementation of the Municipal DRRM plan;
  3. Participate in conferences, seminars and alliances of local governments, national agencies and CSOs to promote sharing of knowledge and experiences among stakeholders, and collaboration for disaster and climate resilience;
  4. Integrate DRR and climate-change adaptation (CCA) in the Municipal Development Plan, Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Annual Investment Plan;
  5. Fully comply with DILG’s Seal of Disaster Preparedness Criteria;


B.   Promote active people’s participation in disaster risk assessment, formulation and implementation of barangay and municipal DRRM plans

In recognition of the importance of people empowerment in good governance, the Mayor, Vice Mayor and municipal councilors commit to initiate and achieve the following tasks within the first 100 days of their term of office:

  1. Popularize participatory capacity and vulnerability assessment (PCVA) as both analytical and planning tool of barangay disaster risk reduction and management committees (BDRRMCs) and the Morong MDRRMC by providing technical assistance to all key officials, personnel and community disaster volunteers;
  2. Appoint at least one private sector representative in the Morong MDRRMC;
  3. Ensure representation and involvement of  grassroots organizations and vulnerable sectors in the BDRRMCs, particularly in planning and implementation of barangay DRRM and contingency plans;
  4. Provide institutional and logistical support to the yearly Morong Summit on Disasters and Climate Change as both mechanism and venue for citizens involvement in monitoring and evaluating implementation of the Morong DRRM Agenda, and in drawing out of urgent concerns and sound proposals related to DRR and CCA from the grassroots and vulnerable sectors;


C. Mitigation and Environmental Protection

  1. Regular cleanup of creeks, rivers and canals particularly in flood-prone areas;
  2. Carry out flood mitigation projects in the Morong Business District: unclog and widen drainage canals along T. Claudio St. particularly the old drainage canal passing from Euni-Arc Plaza, Save More and ending at the Brgy. San Juan side of Morong River; dredge, deepen and widen narrow parts of Sakayin Creek;
  3. Strict implementation of municipal ban on the use of plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam;
  4. Pilot the implementation of Republic Act 6716 (Rainwater Collector Act) through the installation of rainwater collectors in the Morong Covered Court located at Brgy. San Juan and setting up of rain/surface water collection ponds in selected flood-prone areas of Morong;
  5. Reactivate the Morong River Council as the multi-sectoral partner of the MENRO in protecting and rehabilitating the Morong River;
  6. Carry out the National Greening Program in Morong through the following initiatives:
  • Inventory of existing watershed and community forests to identify critical areas affected by deforestation and soil erosion;
  • Provide livelihood incentives to community organizations, cooperatives and private landowners to carry out planting and care of Philippine hardwood species, fruit-bearing and other high value trees  (coffee, cacao, mango, etc.) in watershed areas;
  • Develop and rollout a program to propagate planting of bamboo along river banks and creeks for flood control and mitigation;
  • Enact ordinance to require graduating elementary, high school and college students to plant Philippine hardwood or fruit-baring trees as early as July as a requirement for graduation;


D.   Preparedness to effectively respond to disasters and emergencies

  1. Employ GIS technology in risk and resource mapping;
  2. Develop a Morong website dedicated to disaster awareness advocacy;
  3. Install Disaster Community Awareness bulletins, billboards and wall murals in strategic areas to inform the public about hazards, risks and what to do in times of emergencies;
  4. Integrate Morong’s flood early warning system with DOST’s Project Noah through the installation of river water level sensors along the Morong River;
  5. Set up more visible flood water level markers in strategic areas along or near the Morong River, Laguna Lake, Sakayin Creek and other waterways in flood-prone barangays of the town;
  6. Update community-based flood early systems and protocols with the active participation of affected communities;
  7. Capacitate BDRRMCs, grassroots organizations and community disaster volunteers in Community-based DRRM, emergency response, damage needs analysis and relief operations;
  8. Rollout the Paghahanda sa Sunog sa Gasolinahan Project in response to a worst case scenario fire incident affecting major gas station/s located within the Morong business district and residential areas through a roundtable planning workshop organized by the Morong MDRRMC, BFP, MVERT and PNP, and participated by the owners, managers and key employees of gas stations, barangay and other stakeholders;
  9. Set up low-cost, community-based fire suppression equipment such as drums filled with water and pails with sand; portable water pumps with fire hoses and nozzle to siphon water from hydrants, rivers, creeks and irrigation canals;
  10. Develop and carryout regular Morong Road Safety Campaigns targeting motorcyclists and public utility vehicle drivers in cooperation with PNP Morong, Automotive Association of the Philippines, motorcycle riders organizations, jeepney and tricycle drivers and operators associations;
  11. Provide institutional and logistical support to Family Development Sessions on Family Disaster Preparedness for 4Ps beneficiaries in Morong;
  12.  Engage at-risk communities in formulation and implementation of pre-emptive and forced evacuation protocols;
  13. Make a feasibility study on the construction of a model municipal evacuation center with WASH facilities, child-friendly spaces and community food gardens that  will serve as temporary shelter of flood and other disaster evacuees in times of emergencies and as a DRR Training Institute during normal times;
  14. Access resources of national government agencies, funding agencies and CSOs in providing financial assistance to disaster victims;


E.   Rehabilitation and Recovery

  1. Widen access of  rice farmers to existing crop insurance programs provided for by the DA’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation to protect them against losses due to pest and disease infestations, natural calamities and extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change;
  2. Uphold the Build Back Better Principle in rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged building and infrastructures such as roads, bridges, irrigation facilities and other public utilities;
  3. Develop sustainable livelihood projects benefiting poor and vulnerable communities by transforming water lilies, bamboo, other locally available resources and recyclable materials into handicrafts, furniture and art decor.


F.   Promote safe and disaster-resilient schools program in all public and private schools in Morong

  1. Integrate school safety audits into regular Brigada Eskwela Campaigns;
  2. Provide training to teachers and student advocates on how to integrate DRR topics in the curriculum by employing DepEd-approved DRR lesson exemplars and tools developed by UNISDR, Oxfam, Save the Children, Plan International and YesPinoy Foundation;
  3. Enhance school emergency drills through coordination with and participation of BDRRMCs and barangay-based rescue teams in the planning and execution of these school drills;
  4. Support and reward innovative DRR and climate-change adaptation projects initiated by students and teachers;


G.   Popularize Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) best practices in all barangays and schools

  1. Hold regular WASH training for BHWs, day care teachers, school teachers, community disaster volunteers and PTCA members;
  2. Develop collapsible WASH facilities: toilets, laundry, garbage disposal, kitchen, water purification and distribution units
  3. Conduct headcount of number of homes without toilets and provide them with proper toilet and other WASH facilities;
  4. Celebrate Global Handwashing Day, Oct.15, as a venue for promoting WASH best practices in schools and communities;


H.   Empower SKs, student councils and other youth organizations in Morong to become partners and champions for DRR through their active involvement in DRR and CCA projects.

  1. Organize Youth DRR Advocacy Desks in SKs, student councils and parish youth organizations; and train them in managing youth-friendly DRR Awareness Campaigns;
  2. Organize Morong SK Federation junior responders teams and train them on basic emergency response;
  3. Hold Youth DRR Camps and Rescue Olympics for students and community youths.


“May pondo ba ang munisipyo para sa Morong DRRM Agenda?” – the sistidors or critics will definitely pose this simple but very relevant question.

The late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo had a sharp reply to this question:

“Kung gusto, may paraan. Kung ayaw, may isangdaang dahilan. Marami sa mga LGU ang nagpakita ng kagustuhang ayusin ang sistema. Nagawan ng paraan, may pondo man o wala.”

As it is, the Morong MDRRMC has a budget of at least P5 M this year. Through networking and lobbying, the local government can also access more funds from the People’s Survival Fund, the 2nd District Representative’s PDAF and other national agencies as well as local and international funding agencies.

If there’s strong political will, the universe will provide!

As always, we at the Morong Volunteers are committed to share our competencies, experiences, time and limited resources to the local government and all stakeholders in making the DRRM Agenda a reality in Morong within the next term of office of our new political leaders whom voters will bestow both mandate and power to govern our municipality in the coming May 13 local elections.

Let us all stand together and make the first step in the long journey toward resiliency.


 (Written by Uro Tahup, Vice President for DRR Advocacy and Initiative, MVERT)