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More tourists flock Davao

DAVAO CITY – The Davao Central 911 Communication and Emergency Response Center has found itself responding not only to disasters and emergencies but also to a new emerging incident: tourists.

The Central 911 office here is seeing a spike in tourist visitors since the election of incoming President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

According to Josylea Ortizo, local disaster risk reduction and management office assistant, said that for the first quarter of 2016 alone there have already been 3,089 visitors to the site.

This is almost already one-half of the number of visitors from last year’s data, with the office seeing 6,872 people visiting the area.

The peculiarity of the response system has attracted visitors coming from different areas in the Philippines, which is odd for a government office.

However, Ortizo said that operations are not hampered by the phenomenon.

“Emergency response remains the priority,” Ortizo said.

Visitors usually course their visits through the city’s tourism office, which usually coordinates the visit in advance to prepare the personnel from Central 911.

There are walk-ins, too, Ortizo said. “And we can’t refuse them,” she added, noting that there were even visitors that dropped by in the middle of the night at the 24/7 operations of the facility.

Among the visitors to the area are foreigners dropping by into the city. “We saw a spike in visits after the elections.”

“It would have been OK if these were only three individuals at a time,” she said. “But there was a time the visitors came in three bus-loads.”

Since its establishment in September 2002, the Central 911 response center has since expanded to four satellite stations that coordinated police, search and rescue, fire, and medical response throughout the 244,000 hectares of Davao City.

The city’s response team made news in November 2013 when Duterte, then still Mayor, ordered them to respond immediately to the site of the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda, along with military and police protection. (Yas Ocampo)