According to the United Nations, by 2030, or eight years from now, half of the world’s population will be living in coastal communities. These are the people who will be exposed to tsunamis, storm surges, and flooding. In the case of the Philippines, 66 out of 81 provinces, or 81% are exposed to tsunamis. It covers 832 coastal municipalities and 25 coastal cities or 62% of the Philippine population are in coastal municipalities and cities.
With this available data, there is an urgent need to ensure that disaster preparedness systems are in place so that every Filipino will be safe and resilient from tsunami.
Recently, officials and experts from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS) said that despite its rare occurrence, the public, communities, and local government units should not be complacent with the possible hazards and impacts of tsunami in their areas.
“We call for everyone’s full cooperation and commitment in participating and taking seriously all programs, initiatives, and plans of the government and agency like us (DOST-PHIVOLCS) to prepare every Filipino, especially from vulnerable communities, to minimize; if not eliminate the casualties if a tsunami happens in our lifetime, said DOST-PHIVOLCS Officer-in-Charge Dr. Teresita C. Bacolcol
During the InfoPress event held on November 04, 2022, the DOST-PHIVOLCS conducted a press conference on Understanding the Science of Tsunami at their main office in Diliman, Quezon City in observance of World Tsunami Awareness Day.
The activity served as one of the great avenues to define commonly used tsunami terms and concepts and orient the public and other key stakeholders on Tsunami Philippine information and proper response procedures. Basically, it aims to ensure the accuracy and consistency of the messages being relayed to the public.
“Tsunami hazards can result in disaster losses however we can reduce disaster risks. Information, tools, systems, and plans are available for communities to be safer. So, let's help us to build a Tsunami ready Philippines,” said Joan C. Salcedo, a supervising science research specialist from DOST-PHIVOLCS.
Salcedo shared that DOST-PHIVOLCS has been providing services to various tsunami-prone areas. It includes monitoring and cascading relevant information and warnings down to the barangays and local communities in various platforms and possible ways, and risk assessment just to ensure that all LGUs are equipped to create an appropriate and coordinated response action plan for the residents.
Meanwhile, Ishmael Narag, another supervising science research specialist from DOST-PHIVOLCS, added that there are available technology-based and mobile applications such as Hazard Hunter, REDAS, and GeoRiskPH that the public and LGU officials and responders can browse and eventually help them not only on the monitoring side but also
to have a better understanding of various possible tsunami risks and hazards in specific areas. He emphasized that these platforms, including the DOST-PHIVOLCS websites and social media accounts, would help every LGU to come up with better decision-making.
Narag added that the Philippines should be prepared for tsunamis especially since the country is an archipelago and earthquakes occur often, so it is important to know the right information about tsunami.
“Nearly 80 percent of tsunami events are generated by earthquakes and other factors such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, as well as other occurrences like a meteorite impact,” said Narag.
He further shared that DOST-PHIVOLCS urges the local government units in the country to develop and further enhance their tsunami warning systems and evacuation plans to protect every Filipino, especially those residing in coastal areas.
“An effective end-to-end tsunami early warning system could save thousands of lives and it can only be successful if it spans the continuum of activities associated with an end-to-end approach,” explained Narag.
Also, during the same event, the DOST-PHIVOLCS and the local government of Parañaque City signed of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for both government institutions to work together to further enhance the Tsunami Awareness Campaign within the city. Some activities under this collaboration will be a series of seminars and capacity-building initiatives as well as displaying of informational materials on tsunami produced by DOST-PHIVOLCS to be placed in different establishments in Parañaque City.
Zareena Lamberte, chief of Research and Planning Division of the Parañaque City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office shared some of their initiatives and practices in preparing the residents for the threat of tsunami in their areas.
She said that aside from monitoring and awareness campaigns, DOST-PHIVOLCS is truly an able partner of the local government of Parañaque City in coming up with sound policy recommendations and response action plans, not only for tsunami but for other natural hazards like earthquake.
“It is up to us (local government) to translate and apply these plans and recommendations consistently and ensure that our community will come to prepare and resilient once these natural hazards occur in our area,” said Lamberte. (By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII)