Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Assistant Secretary Raymund E. Liboro, concurrent director of DOST’s Science and Technology Information Institute, called for more disaster response leaders in the Philippines amidst the increasing frequency of natural calamities.
Asec. Liboro said that although mayors and organizations committed to disaster response stand at the frontline of disaster management, this does not exempt any other member of society from becoming a responsible disaster leader. He explained that mayors need responsible barangay chairmen and other dedicated people working under their stewardship in order to effectively carry out their tasks when disasters occur.
“Our message here is that disaster management or disaster response is everybody’s business. We’re providing tools that they can use – for them to lead their families, to lead their streets to safety,” Liboro remarked to a crowd composed of national and local media men.
Asec. Liboro made his call during the press conference for the Region 9 leg of Iba Na Ang Panahon: Science for Safer Communities last April 7-8, 2014 at Garden Orchid Hotel in Zamboanga City.
The event was part of DOST’s ongoing information and education campaign that promotes community preparedness against disasters in all 17 regions of the country via the use of science-based tools like 3D hazard maps, flood models, the Project NOAH website or www.noah.dost.gov.ph, and mobile applications, among others.
During the two-day event, representatives from DOST’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards), and DREAM (Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation), introduced participants to the various science-based tools available for early disaster information and re-acquainted them with already popular technologies such as Google Earth.
Reiterating the importance of these tools, PAGASA Deputy Administrator Flaviana Hilario said that a more science-based disaster risk reduction management approach should be a key feature in every community’s overall plan to ensure its sustainability and continued growth.
The participants, representing Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, and the cities of Zamboanga and Isabela, later had the chance to actually use some of these tools during table-top exercises which allowed them to formulate short- and long-term action plans for their areas in response to various disasters including worst-case scenarios.
Due to climate change, Mindanao is now more frequently hit by typhoons. Zamboanga itself experienced continuous rain for five days in October 2013.
Prior to the press conference, Asec. Liboro spoke before the participants at the plenary session and mentioned the campaign’s four-point agenda for community preparedness. This consists of: 1) increasing local risk knowledge, 2) knowing how to monitor risk hazards, 3) testing warning protocols in the community, and 4) planning for the response. “Anybody who can head these four steps is a disaster leader,” Liboro later stated.
The campaign in Zamboanga was the DOST roadshow’s seventh leg after its successful run in Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Northern Mindanao, MIMAROPA, Western Visayas and Central Visayas regions beginning in March 2014.
The campaign is a collaboration among DOST, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Office of Civil Defense.