Max­i­mize use of geo­haz­ard maps urged

Sun.Star Baguio - - Topstories - DENR Re­lease

IN LIGHT of re­cent tragedies in­volv­ing land­slides that struck MI­MAROPA, the Bi­col Re­gion, and East­ern Visayas due to ty­phoon Us­man, the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR) has sternly re­minded lo­cal gov­ern­ment units (LGUs) that geo­haz­ard maps are read­ily avail­able to them and strongly urges LGU Chief Ex­ec­u­tives, as chair of the lo­cal dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion and man­age­ment coun­cils (LDRRMCs) at the pro­vin­cial, city, and mu­nic­i­pal lev­els.

Dur­ing the tra­di­tional DENR New Year's Call for the agency's top of­fi­cials held at the DENR cen­tral of­fice in Que­zon City, Sec­re­tary Roy A. Ci­matu re­it­er­ated that un­der Repub­lic Act No. 10121, or the Philip­pine Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion and Man­age­ment Act, lo­cal chief ex­ec­u­tives are tasked to chair lo­cal dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion and man­age­ment coun­cils (LDRRMCs) at the pro­vin­cial, city, and mu­nic­i­pal lev­els. It is the coun­cil’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to come up with dis­as­ter man­age­ment and risk re­duc­tion plans that will min­i­mize if not to­tally pre­vent ca­su­al­ties dur­ing calami­ties.

"The DENR for its part con­trib­utes to DRR ef­forts through the geo­haz­ard maps which the Mines and Geo­sciences Bureau (MGB) dis­trib­utes to all LGUs so they can iden­tify land­slide and flood-prone ar­eas," Ci­matu said.

Un­der the law, LDRRMCs should set the di­rec­tion, de­vel­op­ment, im­ple­men­ta­tion and co­or­di­na­tion of DRRM pro­grams within their ar­eas. This in­cludes in­te­grat­ing dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion and cli­mate change adap­ta­tion into lo­cal de­vel­op­ment plans and pro­grams, as well as rec­om­mend­ing

forced or pre­emp­tive evac­u­a­tion of res­i­dents if nec­es­sary.

“I be­lieve that through these maps, the DENR has done its part in pro­tect­ing the lives of the Filipino peo­ple,” Ci­matu pointed out. “We en­cour­age LGUs to work hand in hand with us to pro­tect our peo­ple.”

DENR Un­der­sec­re­tary for Solid Waste Man­age­ment and LGU Con­cerns Benny An­tiporda said con­cerned lo­cal of­fi­cials should uti­lize the geo-haz­ard maps, which are also avail­able on­line through the MGB web­site at mgb.gov.ph, as ba­sis of craft­ing LDRRM Plans.

The MGB has also been con­duct­ing in­for­ma­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion (IEC) cam­paigns to help LGUs and com­mu­ni­ties use and un­der­stand the maps.

An­tiporda added dis­as­ters are bound to hap­pen but based on these maps, lo­cal of­fi­cials can come up, and have in place, dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion and man­age­ment plans or pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures to save lives and avoid dam­age to prop­erty in their ar­eas of ju­ris­dic­tion.

“These (maps) are even color-coded to in­di­cate ar­eas that are high risk or with high sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to land­slides and floods. Thus, hav­ing no ap­pro­pri­ate in­for­ma­tion is not an ex­cuse,” Sec­re­tary Ci­matu said.

“Given this, LGUs have the obli­ga­tion to tell the peo­ple of the dan­ger of stay­ing in an area for the sake of their liveli­hood,” DENR Sec­re­tary em­pha­sized.

An­tiporda lamented that the re­cent land­slide in­ci­dent took place in the Bi­col re­gion, par­tic­u­larly Al­bay prov­ince, which has al­ways been known as a model in dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion and man­age­ment. “It’s time for Al­bay to restudy their prepa­ra­tion and their sys­tems,” An­tiporda said. “If cli­mate changes, then bet­ter pro­tec­tion should be pro­vided to peo­ple.”

The DENR of­fi­cial re­it­er­ated that in the hi­er­ar­chy of pri­or­i­ties, life comes first be­fore nat­u­ral re­sources and liveli­hood. He added that the DENR has taken the proac­tive stance to build re­la­tion­ships with LGUs and the peo­ple to pro­tect lives.

The DENR’s Geo­haz­ard Map­ping and As­sess­ment Pro­gram is an on-go­ing pri­or­ity pro­gram which is be­ing im­ple­mented by the MGB. Its main ob­jec­tive is to iden­tify ar­eas in the coun­try which are sus­cep­ti­ble or vul­ner­a­ble to var­i­ous ge­o­logic haz­ards. Un­der this Pro­gram, the 1:10,000 scale land­slide and flood sus­cep­ti­bil­ity as­sess­ment of 1,634 cities and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were com­pleted. Through the use of these maps, com­mu­ni­ties at risk can bet­ter pre­pare for nat­u­ral haz­ards and avoid dis­as­ter.

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