The absence of an active fault in your area does not mean you are totally safe from earthquake hazards, Dr. Renato U. Solidum, director of the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), warned.

During an info campaign on disaster preparedness held in Romblon State University, Dr. Solidum cautioned that mainland Palawan has no active fault but it is still vulnerable to earthquake hazards particularly tsunamis. “Palawan can be affected by a tsunami coming from either side of the island,” he said.

The rest of the islands in the region namely Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon are also vulnerable to tsunamis. Unlike Palawan however, the said islands are home to active faults.

The region was doused by an eight-meter tsunami almost 20 years ago when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the province of Mindoro in November 15, 1994, killing more than 70 people.

Because MIMAROPA is prone to geologic hazards, Dr. Solidum reiterated the need to be ready in case calamity strikes. He said inspecting houses, buildings, and structures and ensuring compliance to the building code will minimize loss of lives and properties during an earthquake. He also stressed the importance of identifying safe spots in the house or building, and knowing what to do during and after an earthquake.

Likewise, he said that coastal communities must be aware of the natural signs of tsunami—the shake (a felt earthquake), drop (a sudden change in seawater level), and roar (a loud rumbling sound). This is important since a tsunami generated by a near shore earthquake can come in as little as two to five minutes, he added.

Early warning, early action
The info campaign dubbed “Iba na ang Panahon: Science for Safer Communities” is a three-month region-to-region drive geared to help equip local governments nationwide with knowledge and know-how on disaster preparedness.

DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo believes that this activity, including other DOST efforts in disaster mitigation, will help raise awareness on the importance of early warning on hazards and early action from local government units and communities. The goal, he said, is to achieve minimum loss to have quick recovery.

Using the latest tools and technologies such as hazard maps, websites and apps featured in the workshops, the participants, composed of mayors and local disaster risk reduction officers, were able to create disaster risk reduction and mitigation plans for their localities based on a given scenario.

Administrator Mr. Adornhal Adoro of Cagayancillo, Palawan believes that the activity is of great help to their local government unit. “Kami po ay vulnerable sa kahit sa kaunting change ng climate lalo’t ang highest point namin ay 200 meters above sea level lamang (We are very vulnerable even to very slight changes in climate with our highest point at just 200 meters above sea level),” he said.

Although Adoro has attended a similar activity in the past, he noted that the DOST activity is more “hands-on” and recommended that the activity be done annually and include barangays.

Iba na ang Panahon is DOST’s collaborative project with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Office of Civil Defense-Department of National Defense. (S&T Media Service)

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