OpinionsEcon 101Disaster/calamity preparedness?

Disaster/calamity preparedness?

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The recent Intensity 7.5 earthquake in Japan, and threats of volcanic eruptions, typhoons, and floods in various parts of the nation and the world, jolted our collective sense of alarm.

As an archipelago lying within the Pacific Ring of Fire and along the Typhoon Belt, the Philippines plays host to dozens of typhoons each year, and is home to a handful of active volcanoes, indicating that natural calamities and disasters  can happen at any moment.

Locally, our Cuernos de Negros is classified by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology & Seismology as a potentially-active volcano forming part of the Negros Volcanic Belt, the volcanic complex is composed of several volcanic cones and peaks, the most prominent of which are Talinis, Magaso (also confusingly called “Cuernos de Negros”), Guinsayawan, Yagumyum Peak and Guintabon Dome.

The mountain range is very fumarolic, with several solfataras and steam vents located on its slope that are harnessed to generate electricity. The Southern Negros Geothermal Production Field in Palinpinon generates 192.5 megawatts of power.

On the north is  Mount Kanlaon, an active strato-volcano, and the highest mountain on the island of Negros, the highest point in the Visayas, ranks as the 42nd-highest peak of an island in the world, having erupted 30 times since 1819.

Eruptions are typically phreatic of small-to-moderate size that produce minor ash falls around the volcano, classified as Strombolian, typified by the ejection of incandescent cinders, lapilli, lava bombs, and gas fumes.

Volcanic activity at Kanlaon is continuously being monitored by Phivolcs, with the Kanlaon Volcano Observatory located at the campus of La Carlota City College in the barangay of Cubay in Negros Occidental.

In 2014, during a forum sponsored by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Philvolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr. said that understanding hazards and risks, and reducing the exposure and vulnerability of communities to disasters using updated data are key to preparing for calamities like earthquakes and typhoons.

In areas with active fault, Dr. Solidum said that national government agencies and local government units should implement proper land use plans, and avoid developing areas that are prone to hazards, such as those located near fault lines.

If these areas need to be developed and inhabited, government should be quick to evacuate the people when there is a warning of a hazard.

LGUs were urged  to find ways to reduce the people’s vulnerability to disasters, and increase their capability to respond to calamities.

Appropriate preparedness, mitigation and response activities should be based on appropriate hazard and impact scenarios.

Does our local government  have an institutionalized governmental  disaster response and preparedness  to meet the challenges of the possibility of any disaster/calamity?

In 1991, the duties of disaster management and preparedness fell on the autonomous LGUs, and in 2009, the National Disaster Coordinating Council was finally updated, and replaced by Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk- Reduction & -Management Act, paving the way for institutionalizing a consortium of disaster management plans.

Fourteen years since that time, are we prepared yet?

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Author’s email: whelmayap@yahoo.com

 

 

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