MINERVA BC NEWMAN
CAGAYAN VALLEY –The United States government, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the provincial government of Cagayan jointly held the inaugural “Cagayan Disaster Response Training-Paghahanda 1.24 Workshop” from January 23 to 25 in Anquiray, Amulung, Cagayan to more than 70 local disaster response officials, military personnel, and humanitarian workers to enhance the capabilities and collaboration of civilian and military first responders in the disaster-prone province.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) Deputy Director Steve Castonguay said they are honored to support this Philippine government-led disaster response training that fostered the ongoing collaboration between the Philippines and the United States.
“Our shared commitment to resilience and preparedness and an increased understanding of each other’s roles and procedures are crucial in facing the challenges posed by natural disasters,” Castonguay said.
The workshop trained these local disaster response officials, military personnel, and humanitarian workers to better understand each other’s roles in implementing humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) principles.
Michael Wylie, an advisor from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM), presented the mission of the CFE-DMHA.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific CFE-DM provided course material and shared best practices on multi-stakeholder coordination in HADR while the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID)-Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance briefed participants on the process of requesting U.S. government assistance in the event of a disaster.
“We believe that an integrated approach, where all parties work hand-in-hand, is vital in providing immediate and sustainable assistance to those in need,” Office of Civil Defense Region 2 Director Leon DG Rafael Jr., commented.
Rafael, who also serves as Chairperson of the Cagayan Valley Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CVDRRMC) added that through this comprehensive workshop, the team aspires to enhance the capacity and knowledge of the participants, equipping them with the necessary skills and understanding to effectively respond and coordinate humanitarian actions.
The workshop culminated with a tabletop exercise where participants applied HADR principles through a simulated major disaster in Northern Luzon, near two Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement locations.
According to the U.S. government, through the CFE-DM partnership with government and non-government entities worldwide can strengthen collaborative capabilities in HADR among civilians, military responders, and humanitarian organizations.
“The U.S. government is committed to supporting the AFP’s Disaster Response Program to further strengthen civil-military coordination and alleviate human suffering before, during, and after humanitarian crises,” it said.