Barangay officials to undergo search, rescue training

By Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Oct 31 2012 07:48 AM | Updated as of Oct 31 2012 03:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Barangay officials will be trained in search and rescue on orders of President Aquino.

Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., Coast Guard officer-in-charge vice commandant for operations, said yesterday barangay officials will be trained to address the reported rise in drowning incidents.

“We should start training our barangay officials, especially those located along the coastal areas,” he said.

Commander Armand Balilo, Coast Guard spokesman, said that they had received instructions from Aquino to determine why so many cases of drowning occur.

“The President noticed that there were still people swimming even if the weather was bad or there was a prevailing gale warning,” he said.

Data from the Coast Guard showed that from January to Oct. 28 this year, 47 drowning incidents were recorded, higher than the average number of 30 drowning incidents in 2009 and 2010.

Tuason said in some cases, the drowning victim was drunk, while others did not know how to swim.

Balilo said in some instances the victims swam without informing other people of their whereabouts.

“Rear Admiral Tuason had directed the PCG districts to conduct search and rescue training up to the barangay level,” he said.

“Before the trainings were limited to the city or town, but now our target is to conduct (training courses) up to the barangays.

“So in case there is a problem, they would no longer call the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) or the PCG detachment, the barangay officials on their own would have the confidence to conduct search and rescue.”

Balilo said they would be prioritizing the 11,000 coastal barangays nationwide.

The training program would last for one year and the PCG’s Special Operations Group will conduct one-week search and rescue courses in different barangays, he added.

Balilo said that they are also coordinating with beach resort owners to assign lifeguards to monitor swimmers, especially during the rainy season when waters are unpredictable and could suddenly turn from calm to rough.

Parents play an important role to ensure the safety of their children, especially minors.

“We appeal to the parents to watch over their children when they are swimming and they are not accompanied by adults,” he said.