DOST to put science in LGUs’ anti-disaster programs

LEGAZPI CITY, March 1 (PNA) — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is going to teach local government officials in Bicol and all other regions of the country how to use science as a weapon in fighting calamities, including those with the magnitude of typhoon “Yolanda.”

“We are mobilizing all our available resources starting next week to enhance the capabilities of local communities across the country to deal with such calamities,” DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said in a statement reaching here Saturday.

This initiative, which will work on the skills of local government officials in dealing with calamities — from risk monitoring, to planning and action, he said, is under the agency’s project called “Iba Na Ang Panahon: Science for Safer Communities.”

The project, according to the DOST chief, will be bringing all training resources of his department to all the 17 regions this summer, from March 3 to May 23, to teach local officials how to put science in disaster planning and preparation.

The undertaking is a joint disaster preparedness project of the DOST and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to be done in coordination with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in anticipation of potential hazards in the future.

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

The project is supported by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Montejo said.

“We have 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.

“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,” he 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 training 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 added.

The project will be carried out with the DOST taking charge of training participants on how to use their of disaster technologies and with the DILG and the OCD teaching them on how to base their plans on scientific data provided.

DOST Bicol Regional Director Tomas Briñas based here said his office is ready to implement the project in partnership with the local offices of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Agency (Pagasa) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) that are both attached units of the DOST.

These units have experts and well-trained personnel to handle the training of local government officers on using disaster technologies, he said.

On the part of the OCD, Regional Director Raffy Alejandro echoed the same preparedness and as head of the secretariat of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), he said his office will particularly work on the participation of all local disaster risk reduction and management councils in Bicol in this noble undertaking.(PNA)