Senator seeks more accessible geohazard maps

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Sen. Loren Legarda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–The recent tragedy caused by Typhoon “Pablo” in Mindanao shows the need to make geohazard maps more accessible and more understandable to Filipinos, Sen. Loren Legarda said Friday.

Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on climate change, said that everyone must have knowledge of their geographical location and whether their place of residence is at risk.

“Am I living on a landslide area? Am I living in a flood-prone area? Filipinos in every barangay in the country need to know this information  before any typhoon signals are raised,” the senator said.

“Coupled with early warning signals at least seven days before any typhoon arrives, we should be able to radically minimize the casualties,” she added.

Quoting the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Legarda said in a statement that “906 have died and 900 more remain missing, while we have incurred about P15 billion worth of damages due to typhoon Pablo.”

The senator said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should not only distribute geohazard maps but also educate local government units on how to read them to help in their disaster risk reduction and management efforts.

“No mayor, barangay captain, or kagawad (councilor) will put their constituents at risk by relocating them to danger zones,” Legarda said.

“However, due to the lack of information, many have died because the relocation sites themselves are geohazard areas. We should plan our cities and municipalities accordingly,” she added.

Legarda said the national government “should arm local government officials with the right tools to ensure that our nation is always prepared and resilient to disasters.

“Disasters should not happen before we begin to take action,” she said.

Meanwhile, the search continues for more than 900 missing persons in the wake of typhoon Pablo, over 300 of whom are fishermen from General Santos City, the NDRRMC said Friday.

NDRRMC head Benito Ramos said the search, rescue, and retrieval operations for the missing would continue. He did not say however when it would be terminated.

Aside from the 311 fishermen who have been listed as missing, more fishermen cannot be accounted for more than a week since the typhoon hit northern Mindanao, Ramos said.

“We continue to receive reports that there are undocumented fishermen who are missing. We really don’t know how many … because they are undocumented, meaning they are not registered under a specific fishing company,” he added.

Task Force Maritime Search and Rescue SarGen, headed by the Philippine Navy, was established for a “systematic search and rescue” operations for the fishermen, the NDRRMC said.

Meanwhile, the three fishermen rescued by a foreign vessel en route to Tokyo, Japan have been turned over to the Philippine Navy in Surigao del Norte and are now confined at the Caraga Regional Hospital, the NDRRMC added.

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  • Rd Cabe

    Heard of Google Maps, Wikimapia and other open source map projects, we can overlay geohazard data over these public online maps.  They are as accessible as Facebook or Twitter. It’s better than setting up another local database if we need speed.  We can still build a national/local database/GIS on this but … takes long.  The disadvantages of Google Maps and other cloud offerings will be the same as locally-made GIS/database — they are all cloud offerings and will all suffer outage once net connection is disrupted.

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