THE BANGSAMORO Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) newly-launched Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READI) office is aiming to tap former rebel group combatants as part of rescue teams. “Ideally, disaster response should be community-based where the members of the community would be the first responders in an incident of a disaster,” said BARMM Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo, who is also head of READI. However, in many parts of the region, especially the remote and conflict-affected areas, there are no grassroot-level disaster response systems in place. In past natural and man-made emergency situations, the first responders were usually the multi-agency Humanitarian Emergency Assistance Response Team (HEART ) of the now-defunct ARMM government. READI, now under the BARMM’s Interior and Local Government Ministry, is the successor of HEART.
Mr. Sinarimbo said their goal is “expanding the network of responders” within the communities and among former armed rebels. He cited that during an assembly in Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao last August 4, they urged forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to get involved in emergency response as part of the decommissioning process. “One of the pathways of the decommissioning of MILF combatants is to serve their communities, where they can serve as responders and become part of rescue teams.” — Tajallih S. Basman