Awareness, Preparation Best Defense from “Killer” Quakes

PHIVOLCS Director and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Renato Solidum, Jr.

DAVAO ORIENTAL – The people’s margin of survival is equal to the amount of awareness and preparation says the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) during a series of one-day seminar-workshops on Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness for Local Government Units.

Participated mostly by village chiefs and representatives of municipal and city mayors, the seminar-workshops held on May 30 – June 1 at Honey’s Hotel in the City of Mati provided lectures on understanding earthquake hazards, potential preparedness and mitigation measures, and the vital role of LGUs and barangays in the proper information dissemination in times of disasters, among others.

PHIVOLCS Director and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Renato Solidum, Jr., during a media forum called “InfoSentro”, said that the agency has chosen Davao Oriental as one of the first venues for the awareness program because it was here where one of the two strongest earthquakes that ever hit the country was recorded. The destructive earthquake happened in 1924 with an 8.3 magnitude.

With the geographic location of Davao Oriental transected and bounded by active earthquake generators such as the Philippine Fault and the Philippine Trench, Davao Oriental is now being identified as an earthquake and tsunami prone area, thus, compelling LGUs here to equip and prepare their communities.

Meanwhile, as tsunamis are considered equally destructive to earthquakes, Solidum stressed the need for the communities to know early warning systems. “The speed of tsunami cannot be beaten by modern technology,” Solidum said, urging the media and local government units to establish a community tsunami warning and preparedness system using natural signs which include receding of water from the coasts and a loud roaring sound.

Solidum also explained the key actions for risk reduction, which are: knowing the hazards and risk, monitoring, warning and information dissemination and proper and timely response. He also urged the public and LGU participation on the upcoming National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill on June 29, strengthening the earthquake awareness campaign. “There is a need for people to understand the different impacts of the disaster,” he said, stressing that saving lives, livelihood and businesses are the priority for preparedness.

Ednar G. Dayanghirang, Chief of Staff of the Provincial Governor’s Office

Ednar G. Dayanghirang, Chief of Staff of the Provincial Governor’s Office who represented Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, thanked the PHIVOLCS and the DOST for holding the training, saying it is a good first step in making people aware and LGUs equipped on disaster preparedness. “It is important that we embrace a culture of safety here in the province which is achievable when we have awareness,” he said.

The Province of Davao Oriental, through the Governor’s initiative, has established an Incident Command System with a trained team of personnel equipped with skills to respond to all types of incidents. By June, said Dayanghirang, the training will be done down to the municipal level to organize the incident command teams in all municipalities. He said the Province has invested considerable allocation in expanding the trainings not only in 183 barangays but also in twelve ancestral domains in the highlands which are more prone to disasters. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan

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