DSMC should be priority to address multiple disasters in the country-Angara
By Jason de Asis
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, December 8, 2010-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), said that the establishment of the Disaster Science Management Center (DSMC) should be national priority in order to address multiple disasters that hit the country and to aid the government in lessening the costs of disaster recovery.

“The DSMC will help better prepare the nations against typhoons and other disaster that will threaten the country,” Angara said, adding that the government needs to be able to understand how to develop an advanced and real-time information dissemination strategy for the people’s preparations in handling such fortuitous events.
DSMC is envisioned to become a regional hub for disaster science where scientists can help prepare officials and LGU’s to handle natural calamities. To finalize proposals for its foundation, COMSTE has prioritized the creation of the DSMC and is working with the Manila Observatory (MO).
It is set to become a training center that will focus on scenario-type learning utilizing technology for disaster mitigation and management where the nations like Taiwan and Japan are already actively cooperating with training of local experts.
The center set to be a public-private initiative that the scientific community can use to better understand the mechanics of managing disasters with the cooperation of neighboring countries that have experienced similar storms and natural calamities as the Philippines.
Angara said that a pro-active approach is needed in order to properly address this problem, adding that a scientific approach supported by extensive research has already led him to appropriate PHP 100M from the budget for the establishment of a Philippine Disaster Science Center, roughly PHP40M of which is allocated for a proposed Disaster Science Management Center.
An average of P15 billion or roughly .5 percent of the national GDP has been spent by the World Bank (WB) and the Philippine government which showed that the poorest communities also tend to be the hardest hit by calamities.
The study entitled, “Natural Disaster Risk Management in the Philippines: Enhancing Poverty Alleviation through Disaster Reduction”, manifests that, “at the household level, poverty is the single most important factor determining vulnerability. This situation is exacerbated by rapid urbanization, environmental degradation and the increasing risk of environmental disasters, whether as a result of direct human impact and or from climate change,” adding that a joint study by Columbia University and the World Bank entitled ‘Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis’, which identifies countries which are at high risk for six major natural hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, drought, and cyclones, has the Philippines pegged as one of riskiest countries in the world.
The Disaster Science Project aims to upgrade the current capabilities of government to forecast weather, send out reliable warnings, and to ultimately prepare the country and the populace upon the onset of disastrous events, and to rehabilitate in the aftermath of such events.
Other COMSTE priority projects for 2011 include Telemedicine, Remote-Sensing for Agriculture, Electronic Vehicles and Green Transport. (Jason de Asis)