MCIA steps up disaster preparedness

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

THE United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will conduct a training
program at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to prepare its teams and facilities for disaster.

MCIA General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said this new module of UNDP is in cooperation with DHL, a worldwide freight corporation, which transported relief goods to disaster areas around the world.

“We wish that we had this kind of training before super typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayas last Nov. 8,” said Villarete.


He said after Yolanda struck the Visayas, the airport was getting cargo volume of 800 tons in one day, although MCIA is normally handling only 100 tons.

“So, you can just imagine the confusion, the difficulty, the scheduling of handling 800 tons of cargo coupled with the difficulty of coordinating all the other sectors involved,” said Villarete.

The other sectors referred to by Villarete are the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the donor countries and the donors from private institutions.

“We need this training for further improvement. Being a transport hub, relief operations are very difficult and challenging for us. Unfortunately, this might be a little bit late but better late than never,” Villarete said.

Because the airport was not yet ready to handle 800 tons of goods daily from donor countries, he said shipments of relief goods on board three aircraft were unloaded for 10 to 12 days.

This got complicated with the rules and regulations implemented by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on collection of mandatory fees, like stamps and import entry fees, which are subject to the auditing rules of the Commission on Audit.

This was reportedly misconstrued by some foreign donors as harassment with
the intent of extracting bribe money. This has prompted the BOC authorities to waive the mandatory fees.

Villarete cited an incident when Israeli soldiers got mad when the unloading of their relief goods got delayed for days.

Villarete said these are the examples why they considered the UNDP-DHL training an important preparation for any disaster.

He added that they have to be prepared at all times, especially the Philippines gets hit by at least 20 typhoons a year. (EOB)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 23, 2014.

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