Malaybalay creates rescue unit in Upper Pulangi area

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/12 August) The City’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office trained volunteers to form a rescue auxiliary team its eight barangays in the Upper Pulangi area near Bukidnon’s boundary with Agusan del Sur.

Alan Comiso, CDRRM officer, told this reporter Friday they have trained 46 local volunteers in two batches from June to July to operationalize the response center located in Brgy. Mapolo, one of the barangays in the Upper Pulangi.

It takes at least two hours for the city’s rescue team, based in downtown Barangay 9, to respond to distress calls from the Upper Pulangi district, Comiso said.  He added that because the area is far from the center, rescuers usually miss the critical time to be able to respond.

Comiso said they tapped volunteers from each of the eight barangays in the area. The CDRRMO organized the local motorcycle riders called Upper Pulangi Riders Association (UPRA) to compose the unit. He admitted that the group is patterned after Karancho, where he came from prior to his appointment this year as the city’s chief rescue man.

Comiso said UPRA members went through the basics of rescue training including water and mountain rescue operations.

Except in the downtown area, where the CDRRMO is based, they are set to organize rescue auxiliary unit in the city’s other districts. He said next on target is the “Basakan barangays” and then the “Highway barangays.”

He said they aim to conduct training among barangay officials for the community-based disaster risk reduction and management.

Although not any of the Upper Pulangi barangays belonged to Malaybalay’s 22 flood-prone villages, Comiso said they prioritized Upper Pulangi because it is the remotest.

Aside from Mapolo, the city’s Upper Pulangi district with a population of 13,729 covers, Barangays Busdi, Caburacanan, Indalasa, Kulaman, Silae, St. Peter, and Zamboanguita.

In 2010, Malaybalay’s population was 153,085, according to statistics from the Regional Development Council.

Comiso said aside from floods, they are also looking at the city’s other hazards; fire, landslides, and earth quakes.

As of this year, Comiso said the city has an accumulated disaster risk and management fund of P64.7 million. He added that the city government intends to spend the fund before it is reverted back to the general fund.

The city’s rescue team was formally organized only in February this year. While the team members went through training and organizing, they were sent to help in the relief operations after tropical storm Sendong in Cagayan de Oro brought havoc leaving more than a thousand dead.

They also joined rescue operations of the flooding in Valencia City in December 2011.

The office is mandated to ensure public order, safety, and security; practice transparency and accountability; and sound finance and resource management.(Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)