Rama: Use Malacañang sa Sugbu as 911 command center

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CEBU City Mayor Michael yesterday proposed to locate the planned emergency response command center somewhere within the Malacañang sa Sugbu compound in Cebu City’s port area.

He said this was “strategically located” and “closer to the north and the south district.”

Permission will have to be sought from the Office of the President which has jurisdiction over the two-storey structure beside Plaza Independencia.

The mayor said he still wants to see the old Customs House used as a museum to showcase memorabilia of the country’s presidents and Cebu art

“Let it continue to have its heritage value,” he said.

Rama’s statement followed a presentation made Thursday by the Cebu City Risk Reduction and Management Council before private sector and civic groups on the proposal to set up a 24/7 emergency command and control center patterned after the 911 system of the United States.

Alvin Santillana, CRRMC operations head, sought private sector support on the project that would need at least P80 million.

So far, they have identified P40 million to be taken from the 2013 disaster funds of the city.

Under the original proposal, Santillana said the command center could be put up in the disaster office building in barangay Mambaling.

Rama said he still has to be briefed in detail about the project and its funding needs.

The mayor said he was keen on putting up the emergency command center in the Malacañang as Sugbu to form part of his plans for a heritage village there.

The center could start by catering to Cebu City’s emergency needs and later expand to service the entire province and then the region.

Rama said this needs private sector help to ensure efficent operations because the project can’t be done by government alone.

He cited the example of private contractors who immediately field their heavy equipment to respond to landslides in the mountain barangays.

Rama said that also plans to integrate the Mobile Alarm Response System (MARS) which was set up during the time of former mayor Tomas Osmeña.

He said that MARS , which uses text messaging in communicating with emergency esponders, would continue to have features that will complement the planned emergency system.

MARS could be an alternative chanel of communication in case telephone lines are down cutting off access to the integrated emergency system is down./Doris C. Bongcac Chief of Reporters

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