Negros Oriental has organized the first Rapid Emergency Telecommunications Team in the Visayas during a two-day training and workshop, spearheaded by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office and the Office of Civil Defense.
Allen Cabaron of OCD stressed the importance of forming the RETT as the answer to communication woes when power bogs down during calamities.
Eight teams were organized, two each for the three districts and two mobile or strike forces to augment the needs of the three districts in terms of communication.
The RETT is composed of radio amateur groups, information technology specialists, technical experts, and other stakeholders, including the media.
Cabaron said Negros Oriental is the first to roll out the mandate of Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Reduction and Management Act, in the formation of the RETT in the Visayas under the emergency telecommunications cluster.
Gov. Roel Degamo directed PDRRMO head Adrian Sedillo to allocate funds for the purchase of three radio repeaters, to be distributed to strategic areas in Negros Oriental. The repeaters aim to have interconnectivity between local government units and the Rapid Emergency Telecommunications teams through radio handsets when communication towers are down, or there are no cellular phone signals at the height of any calamity.
He said he is treating this matter seriously so no one will die when calamities hit the province.
The RETT formation was a result of previous typhoons when communication could hardly reached the affected communities, and volunteers had a hard time submitting initial status reports from the field as to the extent of damage and their immediate needs, Cabaron said.
Degamo said the establishment of repeaters in strategic areas of the province for handheld radios is a two-pronged approach. Aside from calamities, these repeaters are very useful in relaying to the central command any information with regard to threats of Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups.
Each repeater costs about P30,000.*JG