(Davao City/June 30, 2015).
Miriam College Social Work Department spearheads a first-ever multi-stakeholder seminar on the Management of the Dead and the Missing in Mass Emergencies and Extreme Disaster Events on 29-30 June 2015. The seminar is aimed at formulating policy recommendations for enacting protocols according to international emergency humanitarian guidelines and following government issuances that have not been strictly implemented in the last three years.
Contributing to the discussions are Dr. Gina Lamzon from the ADDU Department of Psychology and journalist Carolyn Arguillas who is currently commissioned under the Leyte Community Resilience Enhancement Project (LCREP) to examine how the management of the dead and the missing was conducted after Sendong, Pablo, and Yolanda.
COPERS sponsored sending Lamzon and Arguillas to the seminar, along with Heidi Mercado, Andre Obidos, and LTC Oliver Maquiling of the OJ7, Armed Forces of the Philippines. LTC Antonino Florendo and Cpt Gilbert Osores, who had respectively commanded the troops on search, rescue, and retrieval for New Bataan in 2012 and Tacloban in 2013, were also sent to participate.
It is an undeniable fact that soldiers are tasked to retrieve the dead and the missing after major disasters in the Philippines, despite the fact that guidelines mandate other government agencies to be in charge of this function. Thus, it had been COPERS’ concern in delivering post-disaster emergency mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to address the peculiar stress of soldiers who had been deployed for the retrieval of bodies.
Four COPERS partners are resource speakers at this forum. They include Asia Disaster Response Network (ADRN) convenor Milet Mendoza, counseling psychologist Lyra Versoza, Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar, and LTC Antonino Florendo.
Meanwhile, on June 30 to July 1, 2015, Dr. Gail Ilagan and Randolph Reserva are slated to attend the regional consultations on the draft national guidelines on MHPSS to be held at the Pinnacle Hotel. The consultation is part of the UNICEF-funded study undertaken by Dr. Elizabeth M. Protacio of the Psychosocial Support and Children’s Rights Resource Center.
COPERS supports strengthening emergency disaster response by capacitating its base of MHPSS Affiliates and disseminating research findings, as well as sharing its resources so that partners and responsible agencies gain knowledge and expertise at their mandated DRR functions.