Why Congress should give DOST-PAGASA more monies

We live in a nation where disaster is a constant companion. We live by this year in, and year out, and we finally have technology that can aid us in ensuring fewer lives, are lost; fewer families broken; economic productivity is ensured in spite of the floods and the rain, and materially less destructive. Investment in being smart will do a long way in disaster preparation. Read more

Conrad de Quiros is correct: we need perspective

Conrad de Quiros wrote on his op-ed column about the need for Perspective in light of Falcon that sank the capital.

When Falcon hit the country last Thursday, you could reasonably expect government to be part of the cure and not of the disease. You could reasonably expect government to mount a relief drive to assist the distressed, to take in private donations and distribute them rather than steal them (or put premature campaign paraphernalia in them), to not try to figure out how to profit in some way from your misery. When Falcon hit the country last Thursday, you had the comfort of knowing you had a government on your side and not against it. As you would when other disasters strike.

And you complain?

I agree with de Quiros. As I wrote in yesterday’s op-ed piece, it’s a beautiful day When Ondoy hit, did we have a government? However imperfect, we at least have a government this time.

We need to be masters of the rain

Last night, Manila fell once again.  Drowned after 10 to 15 mm per hour of rain poured down the capital.  Tropical Storm Falcon was far off at sea.  It was Falcon pulling in monsoon.  Pretty much, productivity, and health go down the drain when the capital goes under water.

A LOT has changed at PAGASA.  In fact it is way better now at communicating information to the public.  A LOT still needs to change.  We still need the weather bureau for instance to be able to translate the scientific data into real world language.  And more importantly, I think the weather bureau needs to be able to determine the amount of rainfall that would strike any part of the country.

We need to be able to focus on saying 10 to 15 mm is expected in 3 hours, or in a day.  Is that do-able?  Is it a matter of getting the right equipment?  The right gear?  Is it a matter of getting more experts in the field to do this?

Knowing the rate of rainfall will give the MMDA some idea of what sort of traffic is going to come.  It gives the PNP and LGUs and disaster relief teams some idea of what equipment they’ll need and where to deploy.  It gives the DepEd and universities an idea whether classes should be suspended or not.  It gives offices an idea when to send their employees home to work from home.

We’re talking about billions of pesos in productivity lost every time the country’s capital sinks. We’re talking about people getting sick, or worse get caught up in flood and swept by a manhole.  We’re talking about infrastructure development that we could tailor to meet the demands of the times.  And it isn’t just in the capital, this could be applied across the country.

We need to invest on this, and invest on this as soon as possible.  PAGASA is our first line of defense in a nation that gets 15 to 20 storms a year.  It doesn’t have to be an Ondoy level typhoon— even this monsoon is packing more trouble than a storm.

Let’s also try to get more people to telecommute.  Let’s get more people to hold meetings over Skype or some other voice over IP.  Let’s get to use technology to make productivity better.   That means better, faster Internet as well.  In a country that gets this sort of weather year-in and year-out we have to find ways to keep creating money, and keep working while the elements are against us.

Let’s give PAGASA all the tools they will need, and all the funding they will need because this really translates to so much more— health of children, safety of our people, and productivity for our economy.

Robredo proposes local forecasting facilities for LGUs

Robredo proposes local forecasting facilities for LGUs
By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—To ease the burden of the national government, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo Wednesday broached the idea of setting up local forecasting facilities in all local government units.

Robredo said the use of local-based forecasting facility proved successful in preventing casualties during typhoons and other calamities in his hometown when he was still mayor of Naga City in Camarines Sur province.

“We had zero casualties in Naga because we have our own typhoon tracker who does the tracking with our own reference point,” Robredo told reporters after meeting with police officials in Camp Crame.

With a minimum investment of P100,000 for the local typhoon tracker facility, he said the city government was able to help the whole of Camarines Sur trace the direction of an oncoming typhoon.

“If we can replicate that experience, it may not be as sophisticated as PAGASA (weather bureau), but it will be good in the sense that you’re more concerned with just your jurisdiction,” he said.

He said “information about the typhoon would trickle down immediately because you’re only talking about your area.”

The newly designated interior secretary said it was also important for each local government unit to have their own alarm system to warn residents of an impending disaster.

“The important part of disaster management is the preparedness part of it. As we see today, we have to enhance our alarm system,” Robredo said.

He said concerned state agencies must craft a new alarm system based on the typhoon’s wind speed and water content.