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DOST bares disaster preparedness programs for safer communities    

By Rodolfo P. de Guzman, DOST-STII

Again, the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) resident "fault finder" stressed the need for the country to be prepared for disasters and have easy access to the right hazard information. This is important for the country to be resilient and have safer communities that can adapt to climate change and extreme weather conditions, he said.

DOST Undersecretary for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Dr. Renato U. Solidum Jr., who calls himself a "fault finder" for his main job as a volcanologist, again shook one forum to underline the need for better disaster preparedness programs.

The forum, organized by the Presidential Communication Operations Office under the Office of the President, focused on the accomplishments and plans of the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR).

Dubbed "Tatak ng Pagbabago, Tatak ng Katatagan" for Adoptive and Resilient Communities, it was the third of a series of the cabinet cluster forums held in preparation for the upcoming State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. It was held at the Philippine International Convention Center on July 18, 2018.

As a good example of preparedness, Solidum cited the Mayon Volcano eruption early this year when DOST-PHIVOLCS conducted regular monitoring and provided regular updates to the public, resulting in zero casualty.

PAGASA maintains 15 Doppler radars from Aparri, Cagayan in the north to Zamboanga in the south. The agency also has x-band radars in Baler, Aurora, at the PAGASA Science Garden in Quezon City, and in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental. These equipment enable PAGASA to collect real time data that help in coming up with accurate weather forecast, especially during typhoons.

Usec. Solidum announced that DOST will install 10 additional flood forecasting and warning systems in 10 major river basins: Abulog, Abra, Panay, Ilog-Hilabangan, Agus, Tagoloan, Mindanao, Davao, Buayan-Malungan, and Agusan.

Further, DOST-PHIVOLCS has several seismic stations with the latest four stations located in Cadiz, Guinulngan, Dinagat Island, and Marawi city. Recently installed was the Ibajay Seismic Station at the Aklan State University.

DOST-PHIVOLCS also maintains sea-level monitoring stations for tsunami monitoring, broadband strong motion seismometers, strong motion seismometers, and some 240 intensity meters. The agency has additional sea-level monitoring stations in Basco, Batanes; Lawaan in the Bicol Region; Dumaguete City in the Visayas; and in Kalamansig in Mindanao, and soon in Culasi, Antique.

Meanwhile, some of the tools that DOST-PHIVOLCS currently uses are the Valley fault System Atlas for Greater Metro Manila with a scale of 1:5,000; the Mayon Volcano Hazard Maps; Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System software or REDAS; the Philippine Earthquake Model Atlas, and the Tsunami Monitoring System.

The institute recently implemented the GeoRisk PH, a web GIs platform with mobile app version called Hazard Hunter. This is another innovation from PHIVOLCS after its launch of the Fault Finder app which shows specific areas with active faults.

In the same forum, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, also chair of the CCAM-DRR, presented the different disaster mitigating programs of the DENR and DOST and what the cluster has done so far.

In his report on environmental protection, Cimatu cited the successful clean up of Boracay, the National Greening Program, and the Mine Environmental Plan for Bagacay Mine in Palawan, for Quicksilver Mines, Inc., and for Romblon Marble Mining, among others.

Cimatu also cited the importance of inter-agency cooperation particularly with the DOST-PAGASA. Because of the efforts of the agency, typhoon-affected families decreased by 43 percent and the cost of damages in infrastructure and agriculture decreased by 79 percent.