LAMITAN CITY, Basilan, Sept. 21 (PIA) – The issues of climate change or global warming are now getting the attention of the barangay officials and barangay information officers, as they discover its impending impact on the lives of the people of this city.
In an information campaign on climate change, coconut scale insect infestation, and solid waste management program here last Aug. 26, the barangay information officers identified some issues and concerns that contribute to or reduce the impact of climate change.
After listening to lectures and video presentations, the participants identified in a small group discussion the issues on the problem of improper garbage disposals, poor sewerage system, sand quarrying, and illegal logging as among those concerns that may put the city at high risk and vulnerable to climate change.
City Administrator Danilo V. Alvaro said that 20 years ago typhoons seldom passed through the island. “Mindanao was a very safe place because we were seldom visited by calamities. But now, one can observe that in a year, we are visited by typhoons five to six times,” he said.
“Climate Change brings us disaster. That is why we are here to open our eyes [to the realities],” he said adding that whenever man-made or natural calamities occur, the city government is able to respond.
Alvaro hopes that this will change and challenge the barangay leaders to equip themselves with knowledge and skills to respond to situations.
“You are the first line of defense when it comes to disasters,” the administrator said. He urged the barangays to set up the initial mechanisms, structures, and procedures in the community level, like pre-identified evacuation centers, before the city government could support.
The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Basilan led the discussion on climate change resiliency and mitigation through the 30-minute video documentation. It reiterated the government’s call to all local government units, especially the barangays, to prepare for the adverse impact of global warming on vulnerable communities, such as those in the coastal areas and in areas prone to landslides and flooding.
At the same forum, Allan Tura of DENR-Lamitan also echoed the call of the government to help protect the country’s remaining forests. He asked the barangays to intensify tree planting activities.
“The video shown earlier very well explained that in order for us to slowdown global warming, we need to aggressively plant trees,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Rene Mabilog of the Office of Civil Defense in Basilan urged the barangay information officers (BIOs) to help spread the value of preparedness to their constituents as key to save lives. He also explained how the barangay should utilize their DRRM (Disaster Risk Reduction Management) fund to do preparedness and mitigation activities.
During the IEC Forum also, Onesima Hayawan of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) explained to the BIOs how to detect (coconut scale insect) cocolisap-infected coconuts and help curb its spread in Lamitan City. Basilan is one of the provinces in the Philippines that is severely infested with the cocolisap that threatens the coconut industry in the country.
Observers believe that the infestation was partly due to the issue of climate change and global warming when farmers use pesticides and inorganic fertilizers that kill the predators.
Around 40 Barangay Information Officers and officials in Lamitan city participated in the one-day advocacy forum on climate change, cocolisap, and solid waste management last Aug 26, initiated by the city government of Lamitan in cooperation with PIA and the Basilan Communicators Network Inc. (BASCOMNET). Pioneer officers of the Lamitan Information Officers Network (LION) were also elected to help the city disseminate information and do advocacies. - PIA