New department for disasters sought

THE creation of a new department that will look after disaster risk reduction has received support from an expert.

Renato Solidum Jr., Department of Science and Technology (DOST) undersecretary and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief, said creating an independent emergency response department is vital for a country that is considered one of the world’s most vulnerable to disaster.

“Having a department-level agency looking after managing the risk and responding to disasters would be very important,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday during the 2017 ICT Disaster Response Conference at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

Currently, however, he said the bill seeking to create the Department of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management is under consolidation.

The House committees on government reorganization and national defense and security have jointly formed a technical working group (TWG) tasked to consolidate eight bills for the creation of a new department that will supervise disaster preparedness and emergency management.

Solidum said the realization of this department will still have to go through further discussions, to include DOST, that is yet to give out their comments.

As former Philvolcs chief, Solidum is largely known for his expertise in geological hazards like earthquakes and tsunamis and has initiated projects to include volcano monitoring system, tsunami warning system, earthquake monitoring system.

He said using ICT as a tool in disaster management is vital to raise awareness and understanding of natural disasters and calamities.

“Information communications technology is essentially processing the data that we gather so it could be understandable and this message is communicated in a rapid or timely manner,” sais Solidum.

Knowing the disaster and risks; monitoring, warning people and dissemenating information on how to prepare for it; and responding to it in an appropriate and timely manner are the essentials to disaster management, said Solidum.
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