By: Gabrielle Anne Endona and Mary Joy Fernandez
MANILA – The university’s disaster preparedness programs shift to full gear with a proposal to create a public safety office.
After Typhoon Glenda left the campus with fallen trees, torn roofs and unstable electricity, Chancellor Michael Tan called for a meeting to plan for future responses which resulted to a proposal to establish an office which will concentrate on disaster preparedness.
The July 17 meeting was attended by the Chief Security Officer (CSO), Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (VCCA), Campus Maintenance Office, Health Service and the heads of the campus dormitories, among others. A resolution expanding the scope of the responsibility of the CSO through building a new office called the Office of the Public Safety (OPS) was agreed upon during the session.
Atty. John Baroña, who was temporarily appointed CSO in October 2013, said the new office will serve as a secretariat and a central office for the campus’ disaster risk reduction and response.
“In times of emergencies or disaster, [the public safety office] will maintain the records, [standard operating procedures] and it will be activated if there is a need to respond when a disaster arises,” Atty. Baroña said in mixed English and Filipino.
Before the OPS, Baroña said quick disaster response is shouldered by the offices in UP with prior training.
“The ones in charge regarding disaster preparedness are the offices who are trained: those who can look whether our environment is safe or not when there are hazards, whether our offices are prepared to withstand or lessen the strength of the hazard that will come,” he said.
With the new office still in progress, Baroña’s responsibility as the CSO only extends to the UP Diliman Police, the Special Services Brigade (SSB) and the blue guards. These offices under him were the initial respondents who reported the damages and incidents caused by the typhoon Glenda.
Amid the havoc caused by Glenda, Barona is positive the proposed office will further enhance the response during disasters.
“[K]ahit wala pa naman yung Public Safety Office, kumbaga yung existing offices natin, meron na siyang SOP kapag ganito yung situation so ang [kailangan] lang natin [pag-usapan] ay how to further improve it, put it in the right office or [kung paano] talagang mas magiging efficient and effective yung pamamahala at response,” the chief security officer said.
Typhoon Glenda, which hit the Southern Luzon area on July 15-16, devastated at least 13 buildings including the Carillon Tower, Palma Hall, Quezon Hall, and Vinzons Hall, according to the July 28 memo from the VCCA office. Damages included around a hundred fallen trees, destroyed Philippine Collegian office, torn roofs and broken windows, among others.