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How the Philippines tackles climate change

Published on 5 June 2014 Philippines

For the past 3 months, representatives from government agencies involved in the science of disaster risk reduction have been going around the country, conducting workshops called "Iba Na Ang Panahon" with local chief executives, non-government organizations (NGOs), local businessmen, and local disaster risk reduction and management personnel.

The framework is climate change, and the exposure of the Philippines to extraordinary hazards in the coming months and years because of it.

The conference in Manila on Thursday is the last of 17 "Iba Na Ang Panahon" workshops conducted nationwide.

During the workshop, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) introduced the concept of "disaster imagination," a process by which local government units (LGUs) and other sectors will sit down and plot out worst-case scenarios specific to their locations, but all anchored on scientific bases.

The DOST presented 3 major disasters that the National Capital Region (NCR) should be preparing for: 1) the 7.2 magnitude quake that could come from the West Valley Fault, 2) a tsunami resulting from an 8.5 magnitude earthquake that the Manila Trench is capable of generating in the West Philippine Sea, and 3) massive flooding and inundation from weather disturbances similar to super typhoon "Yolanda."

During the workshop, LGUs units were divided into 4 geographic clusters -- north, south, east, and west -- logic being that if the 7.2 West Valley Fault quake hits, these are the areas that will be left working together once other areas are isolated.

A 5th cluster -- called Society in General -- is composed of utilities, national agencies, NGOs, and businesses; these are the sectors that serve more than a clustering of towns.

The DOST and its composite groups explained the scientific basis behind the hazards, the technology they used to come up with the scenarios, and other available websites and technology made available to those who want to prevent the effects of these hazards may have.

Project Noah showcased their website, and the Moses tablet. Another such technology is called the REDAS or the Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System, which is capable of showing the projected damage that earthquakes of different intensities can generate.

Raymond Maximo, Phivolcs Science Research Specialist 2, said they use the REDAS to plot worst-case scenarios that the clusters can work on.

Given the scenarios, the clusters will then begin to build their own system or protocol that will work in their areas.

This, Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said, is called the concept of "disaster imagination."

In general, Solidum said people in Metro Manila are mentally prepared for the big impending disasters. But the region's private and public structures remain vulnerable, he said.

While the LGUs are working on the protocol, he called on the public to check the safety of their own homes first.

Source: ABS-CBN News | 29 May 2014