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Barangay folks learn from ARMM tsunami drill

 • 01:15 AM Sat Aug 1, 2015
John Unson
Rescuers scour the sea along the west coast of Maguindanao during Thursday’s inter-agency Tsunami drill in coastal villages in the province. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY- The Tsunami drill in the province on Thursday reminded local folks of a 1976 disaster that killed thousands when waves slammed coastal villages following a strong tremor of tectonic origin.Community leaders, among them Mayors Ombra Sinsuat and his nephew, Marshal Sinsuat of Datu Odin and Datu Blah towns, respectively, both said they are thankful to organizers for embarking on the drill.The activity, involving soldiers, policemen and members of the Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, was a bilateral initiative of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and officials of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.Hundreds of Muslim, Christian and ethnic Teduray residents in Barangay Kusiong and nearby seaside enclaves in Datu Odin town in Maguindanao participated in the extensive multi-hazard drill, the ARMM’s first since the region was created via a plebiscite in 1990.Barangay officials had told reporters the activity provided them insights on how to react and extend emergency and relief services to their constituents in case a Tsunami strikes seaside villages under their jurisdiction.The coastlines in Maguindanao’s adjoining towns of Datu Odin and Datu Blah, both along the Moro Gulf, are dotted with fishing villages that were struck by a deadly Tsunami in the evening of August 17, 1976.The disaster killed more than 6,000 seaside dwellers in the two towns and in coastal areas in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, in Zamboanga del Sur and in Pagadian City.Lawyer Kirby Abdullah, Hataman’s assistant secretary for Maguindanao and concurrent on-field supervisor of HEART, said Thursday’s drill helped educate villagers and barangay officials on the importance of emergency preparedness and basic life-saving techniques.Abdullah said Hataman, who chairs the ARMM’s peace and order council, is grateful to all agencies and civil-society organizations that helped push the activity forward.Mayor Ramon Piang of North Upi, a hinterland town from where the barangays now comprising the territory of Datu Blah were carved from, said he was elated with the conduct of the drill.Piang said a big number of his ethnic non-Muslim Teduray constituents have many relatives in the fishing enclaves in Datu Blah town.The HEART facilitated relief missions in North Upi when floods, spawned by heavy rains, swept through villages in the area last year.

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