At the onset of the rainy season, the Philippines’ weather bureau is beefing up its disaster risk reduction and response program by joining forces with a party-list group, local government units, and two companies.
At the opening ceremonies for the Typhoon and Flood Awareness Week on Monday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA) announced its partnership with Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones and Metro Manila barangay officials for its disaster awareness programs in the coming months. About 100 barangay captains and watchmen attended the event. Smart Communications, Inc., the Philippines’ leading mobile phone company, and Jollibee Foods Corp., the country’s largest fastfood firm, also entered into partnerships to support PAGASA’s projects. “Tropical storm Ondoy was the second most destructive [weather disturbance] in the world in 2009. The Philippines, because of its geographical locations, is prone to the most severe disasters,” PAGASA deputy Nathaniel Servando said at the event. Ondoy submerged three-fourths of Metro Manila, killed hundreds, displaced thousands, and destroyed billions-worth of infrastructure and agricultural land.
After Ondoy, a string of cyclones Pepeng, Quedan, Ramil, Santi, and Tino also followed in the succeeding weeks. Palmones said Agham party-list and the state weather bureau would hold awareness seminars in barangays (villages) located in flood-prone areas. Jollibee has agreed to provide the food for the participants to help offset costs for the food. “We deem it necessary to partner with a giant. Malaki ang naitutulong nila to speed up the campaign,” Palmones said at a press conference after the event.
Community-based projects Meanwhile, Smart Community Partnerships senior manager Darwin Flores discussed the Rain Gauge Project, a program his department is pioneering in about 50 public schools located in flood-prone areas across the country. Under the project, schools are given instruments to measure the amount of rainfall.
Students are taught to cooperate with each other in knowing when a disaster is imminent. Palmones said the programs aim to target public officials in the grassroots level because barangay leaders are at the forefront of disaster response whenever calamities happen.
“More disasters have hit the country, and our priority concern is safety for our family. One way of ensuring their safety is by helping them learn disaster preparedness measures, particularly in the event of a typhoon and flood.
Not only are family members are able to help save themselves, they might also be instrumental in bringing others to safety,” he said. – RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV