BALER, AURORA – Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, Mar Roxas praised Aurora Governor and Mayors for their exemplary preparations for typhoon ‘Chedeng’ (international name ‘Maysak’) in a dialogue with the Local Chief Executives, DILG family, Private Sector Disaster Management Network (PSDMN) and members of the Aurora Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association (AHROA) on April 6, 2015 at the AMCO Beach Resort, Baler Aurora.

‘Chedeng’ was initially categorized as a super typhoon which packed a wind speed of 215 kph, and gustiness of 250 kph upon entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility on April 2, 2015. In response, Aurora mayors opted to facilitate the immediate evacuation of all the tourists in Aurora particularly those who are staying at the coastal areas who are endangered by storm surges. ‘Chedeng’ eventually downgraded to a Low Pressure Area in the afternoon of April 5, 2015 as it finally reached the archipelago.

Sec. Roxas arrived via chopper at 7:45AM at the Aurora Provincial Police Office to have initial talks with DILG RD Florida M. Dijan, PNP-RD Ronald V Santos, BFP-RD Aloveel B Ferrer, and Baler, Aurora Mayor Nelianto “Pilot” C. Bihasa who personally thanked Roxas for the ‘hands-on’ approach of the National Government in ensuring the safety of their community through constant reminders. “Alam po ‘nyo, ‘yung nangyari ngayon, ganyan sana” (what has been done, should always be done), he adds when asked by Sec. Roxas on what should have been his actions if he were the DILG Secretary.

Sec. Roxas also stressed that information is key in preparing for natural hazards and immediately vowed to tap the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the provision of satellite phones and generator sets to the Regional and Provincial DILG, PNP, and BFP Offices to ensure that communications will be unhampered during disasters.

SILG went on-air thru an interview by DWBW 92.1 FM Radyo-TV Baler anchor, Bernie Rada. Sec. Roxas put emphasis on the ‘whole of government’ approach whereby National Government Agencies play their valuable roles in Disaster Preparedness in unison, “lahat tayo, tulong-tulong, sama-sama, at magkaka-ugnay” (all of us are hand in hand, unified, and interconnected) he added. This approach is necessary in ensuring that all sectors especially the marginalized are spared during times of disaster.

Subsequently, a dialogue with Governor Gerardo Noveras, Vice Governor Rommel Angara, the Mayors of Baler, San Luis, Maria Aurora, Dipaculao, the DILG family, and the hotel owners came in place to clarify the issues on the pre-emptive evacuation measures undertaken by the Local Chief Executives prior to the onslaught of ‘Chedeng’. On behalf of the hotel owners, AHROA representative, Patrick Angara, expressed his disappointment on the seemingly over-sensationalized information brought by the media. In response, Mr. Ariel Avendaño of the Manila Bulletin said that all their information were only based on actual events. In general, it was observed that hotel owners were ‘all praises’ to the precautionary measures of the government despite a little break in the bank.

Sec. Roxas also advised the hotel owners to make use of the turn of events as an opportunity to show that tourists’ welfare is prioritized in Aurora. This was seconded by Aurora Governor Gerardo Noveras who added: “Dito sa Aurora, una ang kapakanan ng turista” (Here in Aurora, we prioritize the welfare of tourists). The dialogue came to a close by Roxas’ statement on how the government works for the people in a deliberate, pragmatic, and sustained system in responding to hazards: “hindi bara-bara, hindi basta-basta, sama-sama” (not unsystematic, not disorganized, but hand in hand). SILG left at 11:35AM en route to the Province of Isabela which was also threatened by Chedeng’s fury.