The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Office of Civil Defense, touches base with CALABARZON key officials in its disaster preparedness information campaign called "Iba na ang Panahon! Science for Safer Communities" today at the Lima Technology Center in Malvar, Batanagas.

The two-day event will gather provincial governors, city/municipal mayors, and disaster risk reduction managers in CALABARZON to arm them with the latest information, tools and technologies that will help them understand the possible impact of hazards in their respective communities.

The campaign ran its first leg in the first week of March in Clark, Angeles City to help arm local governments in Central Luzon in preparing for potential hazards in the future. The CALABARZON leg is the second of the nationwide region-to-region campaign series.

According to Science Secretary Mario G. Montejo, “Iba na ang Panahon! embraces the change in our seasonal climate and weather patterns and the severity of the impact of weather-related natural hazards in the country.”

He added that the campaign highlights the availability of new tools such as latest high resolution maps and flood modeling solutions that allow scientists to bring better forecast warnings down to communities.

Inter-government effort for safer communities
The launch sets off the government’s mobilization of its resources to enhance capabilities of local communities across the country to deal with calamities the magnitude of typhoon Yolanda.

Secretary Montejo in a recent press briefing told that the partner agencies will be bringing all their training resources to all the 17 regions this summer, from March 3 to May 23, to work on the skills of local government official s in dealing with calamities -- from risk monitoring, to planning and action.

“We will teach them how to put science in disaster planning and preparation,” he said

Montejo said workshops have been lined up in every region, and all governors and mayors are enjoined to attend.

Scenario-based techniques
“We had been able to draw up scenario-based strategies and protocols in dealing calamities, from warning, response, to rehabilitation. We are bringing them down to the provinces and municipalities, and there’s no other time to start than now. Summer is just around the corner, and we would rather make hay while the sun shines,” he explained.

Margareta Wahlstrom, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, expressed the UN’s support for the project.

The DOST will take charge of training participants on how to use their of disaster technologies, the DILG and the OCD will teach them on how to base their plans on scientific data provided.

Adding more knowledge
“Our objective is to increase the local risk knowledge of the local executives and the people in their communities, capacitate them to do an effective monitoring of a looming calamity, test their warning and communication protocols, and build their response capabilities,” Montejo said.

The workshop should enhance the decision-making capabilities of local executives, and enable them to execute science-based and scenario-driven strategies whenever a calamity strikes, the science secretary said.

He said their training modules are based on the country’s experiences from Yolanda, and other calamities that occurred earlier.

The trainings will vary based on the hazard vulnerabilities of each locality.

“After these workshops, we expect local leaders and their communities to respond to our early warnings. As we have been doing, we will continue providing early warnings, and we expect them to give early actions to attain zero, or only minimal damage and casualties whenever a calamity hits them,” Montejo said.

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