Girls Scouts to help in disaster readinessBy Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines - The next time calamity strikes, victims could be getting help from the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP).
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the GSP on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that aims to encourage local government units (LGUs) to organize “community-based troops” composed of girl scouts.
GSP National President Dr. Salud Bagalso said in an interview that their trainings for girl scouts will be crucial in times of crisis. She said that girl scouts receive training in disaster awareness and preparedness, swimming, first aid, etc.
The girl scouts will be able to save themselves during times of crisis, and could, in extreme cases, possibly save others as well. The burden on professional and government rescue teams will be lighter with the help of these scouts, Bagalso said.
“We are enlisting the support and active participation of girl scouts in the government’s initiatives on disaster readiness,” Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said in a statement.
Robredo however said that he did not want girl scouts doing disaster rescue efforts, a point that the GSP officers echoed.
Bagalso stressed that girl scouts will never be sent out as primary rescuers because that would be putting them in harm’s way. Girl scouts can help out simply by knowing what to do and what to expect during disasters, she added.
Girl scouts who find themselves in evacuation centers will also be able to help by volunteering with the relief efforts, she said.
Robredo said in his speech that he thinks the membership of the GSP should be increased further so that the youth would learn the many important values of scouting.
“I never got any ribbon from scouting, but the lessons I learned from it has served me well,” Robredo said.
He suggested to the GSP officers that beneficiaries of the governments Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program could be recruited as scouts. This way it would help the poor families also because their children will learn disaster preparedness as well as other vital life lessons.
The GSP currently has a membership of around 1.9 million nationwide, Bagalso said.