Magalong, Cordillera tribal support system honored in disaster management month celebration
BAGUIO CITY — New contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong was honored on Tuesday, July 14, for an innovative system that tracks down possible coronavirus carriers “using information technology and police investigation tools” during a program that promoted effective local government measures to cope with the pandemic.
Magalong, and a group of IT experts and policemen, who have helped Baguio epidemiology teams locate suspected infection cases, have been training other local governments on Baguio’s contact tracing methodology, including Cebu City last week after that Visayan metropolis was gripped by soaring cases of transmission.
The awards were given by the Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) which celebrated this year’s disaster resilience month.
Also recognized was Gabino Ganggangan, the mayor of the Mountain Province town of Sadanga, who turned down food relief in favor of more needy communities during the Luzon lockdown.
Ganggangan, a former colleague of slain rebel priest Conrado Balweg, invoked an indigenous custom that requires every household to share their resources under extreme emergencies.
The Cordillera region would continue to share its best practices, some of which were honed for centuries, to fend off the virus, said Albert Mogol, CDRRMC chair and Cordillera director of the Office of Civil Defense.
He said the rice terraces of Ifugao and Mountain Province and terraced vegetable gardens of Benguet represent decades of resilience when upland communities carved farms out of rough mountain terrain to grow food. It’s the same ingenuity “that defines Cordillera civilization today,” Mogol said.
He was echoed by Ricardo Jalad, OCD administrator and executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, who stressed that Cordillera response systems can be “emulated” now that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) “has effectively changed our perspectives in handling emergencies.”
“The emergent hazards with a magnitude we have never before encountered, such as this pandemic, underscores the need for our DRRM players to be both ingenious and committed,” said Jalad, who joined the ceremony through videoconferencing.
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