Government targets launching science TV channel next month

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, July 11 (PNA) — The country’s state weather specialists and volcanologists can well be television’s next stars.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Assistant Secretary Raymund Liboro raised such possibility as he said this agency targets operating, beginning August this year, its own science-oriented free television channel with such experts as among personalities who’ll face the camera.

“On that channel, we’ll broadcast all our latest available advisories on the weather, earthquakes and other hazards so people can be forewarned and act accordingly,” he said Friday on the side of a meeting DOST’s weather agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) spearheaded in Metro Manila to generate inputs for simplifying its information materials.

He noted plans are for weather specialists from PAGASA to air the advisories so they can fully explain these to viewers.

“They can have their respective time slots,” he also said.

Experts from DOST’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) can also go on the air anytime to report an earthquake that just occurred so parties concerned can react accordingly, Liboro continued.

“Our observation is queries to PHIVOLCS are made about 20 minutes after earthquakes happen so we want the information out as soon as possible,” he said.

DOST’s target to launch its television channel next month is part of plans to help further promote disaster preparedness, particularly since studies show the Philippines is among countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Among impacts of climate change are onslaught of weather extremes as well as sea level and temperature rise, all of which can spell havoc for the country if adaptation measures aren’t implemented.

Experts also warned earthquakes can be expected in the Philippines as this country lies along the tremor-prone Pacific Ring of Fire.

Liboro said the television station will be located within PAGASA central office’s compound in Quezon City.

DOST will transform an existing PAGASA building there into a television station, he noted.

“We intend operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said.

He said everyone — including operators of private regular and cable television channels — can freely access DOST’s broadcast.

To enhance DOST’s broadcast, Liboro raised the possibility of PAGASA and PHIVOLCS focusing their respective closed-circuit television cameras on locations cited in the advisories so these equipment can capture images there for airing on the television channel.

Citing an example, he said the channel can broadcast conditions in a location PAGASA identified in its advisory as possible landfall site of an approaching typhoon.

He believes showing people what’s happening can help them better understand the advisories and appreciate need to take measures for preventing disasters.

“Despite numerous warnings, some people still don’t takeprecaution,” he observed.

UNISDR defines disaster as “a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.”

UNIDSR stands for United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Disasters are often described as resulting from the combination of exposure to a hazard, conditions of vulnerability that are present and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce or cope with potential negative consequences, notes UNISDR.

Among disaster impacts UNISDR identified are loss of life, injury, disease and other negative effects on human physical, mental and social well-being together with damage to property, destruction of assets, loss of services, social and economic disruption and environmental degradation.

Aside from airing advisories, Liboro said DOST also targets using its channel as platform for disseminating other science-related information materials from its agencies.

He said broadcasting the information, which includes available commercial DOST technologies, will help increase people’s access to knowledge they can use for improving their lives and helping the country further move forward.

“We’ll have programs on those in between our regular programming,” he said.

He noted through the years, DOST agencies already accumulated so much scientific information that people must know about, understand and apply.

Liboro said DOST already bid out equipment needed for its television studio.

“Clear broadcast is what we expect to have after installing the equipment,” he noted.

He expects the work to finish in time for the channel’s target launching next month.

PAGASA, PHIVOLCS and three other DOST agencies — Science and Technology Information Institute, Advanced Science and Technology Institute and the department’s commercial arm Technology Resource Center — are partnering on the undertaking, he added. (PNA)