Months ahead of the rainy season, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has launched an enhanced version of the Operation Listo Manual that contains minimum actions that local governments must do in preparation for typhoons.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año says the Operation L!STO Disaster Preparedness Manual volume 3 now includes a preparedness guide for governors which contains general and minimum preparatory actions for provinces when preparing for disasters.
“We do not want to take the provincial governors out of the equation because as head of their respective provincial disaster risk reduction and management councils, they can help cities and municipalities in their disaster preparedness efforts,” says Año.
The previous edition of the manual only focused on the preparedness checklist of city and municipal mayors, DILG field officers, chiefs of police of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Año stresses that failure of the part of the local chief executive to comply with the manual, like physical presence during disasters, may lead to disciplinary action from the DILG.
“The manual is a step-by-step guide for local execs during typhoons and all that they have to do is execute the detailed preparedness and critical actions specified in the document. If they fail to carry out such actions, they may face disciplinary actions from the DILG,” he says.
According to the DILG Chief, another significant change in the manual is the authority given to local chief executives to undertake pre-emptive or mandatory evacuation when necessary even if the local government unit (LGU) is still at the alpha or bravo alert level.
“Even if the LGU is only at the alpha or bravo alert level, the mayor could already carry out pre-emptive or mandatory evacuation based on his assessment of the prevailing situation on the ground,” says Año.
Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie are the three categories assigned to LGUs based on how prone they are to typhoons and each category has corresponding preparations and actions to be undertaken under Operation L!sto.
Charlie means the most critical areas where the breadth of the storm is. These places are exposed to high risks and have the need for forced evacuation during strong typhoons.
Bravo alert is given to medium-risk areas located one to 50-kilometers away from Charlie areas. During typhoons, the declaration of evacuation in these areas will depend on the chief executive. Meanwhile, Alpha is for low-risk areas that are 51 to 100 kilometers away from Charlie areas.
Año says the improved L!sto Manual also has more detailed progressive actions on preparedness and response. The monitoring and coordinating functions were also emphasized and a more comprehensive set of tools and policy guidelines on disaster preparedness were added.
“The new manual contains a set of critical preparedness actions categorized into Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie that were enhanced and further divided into four timeframes: upon alert, before, during, and after typhoons,” he says.
The DILG through the Local Government Academy (LGA) saw it fit to revise the manuals guided with the National Disaster Preparedness Plan and based on the actual experiences of various stakeholders who were consulted in improving the manual.
“We updated the latest edition of the manual to capture the actions needed at various levels of preparedness, including a more comprehensive set of pre-hazard actions,” says LGA Executive Director Thelma T. Vecina.
The enhanced checklist for mayors also encourages them to invest on a partnership agreement with civil society organizations and private sector groups on the training of local DRRM staff and volunteers and in acquiring equipment for security, search and rescue and after clearing operations.
The Operation Listo Manual was first developed and used when Typhoon Ruby hit the country in 2014.