Pagasa mulls establishing forecasting center in Cebu

MANILA -- State weather and climate agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) aims further building up its resilience to earthquakes and other natural threats by establishing a forecasting center outside of Luzon.

"We're thinking of establishing a forecasting center in Cebu province," Pagasa Acting Administrator Dr. Vicente Malano said.

He noted the idea is to have such center as a mirror facility of the existing forecasting center at Pagasa's central office in Metro Manila.

Having such back-up center in Cebu will enable Pagasa to sustain delivery of its services despite onslaught of untoward events like the magnitude 7.2 earthquake the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has been warning Metro Manila and nearby areas due to possible movement of the West Valley Fault (WVF), he said.

"If the central office is down, we'll still be able to provide Pagasa services through the center in Cebu," he added.

Scale of the planned service delivery in Cebu will be similar to that provided in Pagasa's Metro Manila-based forecasting center, he said.

The plan is in line with Republic Act No. 10692 or the Pagasa Modernization Act of 2015, Malano noted.

"Our direction is towards becoming a world-class agency," he said.

Phivolcs continues urging the public to make earthquake preparation a way of life, noting the Philippines lies along earthquake-prone Pacific Ring of Fire - one of the world's most geologically active areas.

Around 90 destructive earthquakes already occurred in the country during the past 400 years, noted Phivolcs.

Already ripe for movement is the WVF traversing Metro Manila as well as Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite provinces, Phivolcs warned.

As early as 2004, the study "Earthquake Impact Reduction Study for Metropolitan Manila" by the government and Japan International Cooperation Agency warned around 170,000 residential houses will collapse, an estimated 34,000 persons will die and around 114,000 people will be injured if WVF generates a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

Pagasa continues fast-tracking work on R.A. 10692's implementing rules and regulations (IRR), noting MalacaƱang wants this signed before the present administration ends its six-year term next month.

This week, Pagasa spearheaded in Metro Manila the third public consultation on its draft IRR.

Pagasa plans conducting in Laoag City its fourth public consultation on the matter.

Such consultations aim generating inputs for the final version of the proposed IRR, noted Pagasa.

Approved in November 2015, R.A. 10692 seeks modernizing Pagasa so the agency can further provide weather and climate information essential in helping communities nationwide better brace for tropical cyclones, storm surges and other natural hazards under its watch.

"The modernization program under this Act shall be implemented for an initial period of three years: Provided, that payments for multi-year contract obligations incurred under this Act may extend beyond this period: Provided, further, that Pagasa shall continue to modernize and constantly update its operational capabilities to keep pace with best global practices," reads R.A. 10692. (PNA)

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