Disaster management center up in forum

The Philippines will seek assistance in setting up a disaster management center at next week’s forum of lawmakers in the region in Japan, a senator said yesterday.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara said in a text message that he will ask “assistance from Japan, being the most prepared nation against natural calamities -- to set up a Philippine disaster center.” “I will push for closer collaboration between both our countries and identify points of convergence in discussions on the floor, but more importantly in the sidelines in order to achieve this aim,” he said, noting the need to “enhance regional cooperation and coordination on environmental and climate change programs.” Mr. Angara and Senator Franklin M. Drilon will represent the country at the 20th Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) on Jan. 8-12 in Tokyo.

In an e-mail message, Mr. Angara said he has been coordinating with the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan to establish a Disaster Science and Management Center in the Philippines. Northern Japan experienced a devastating tsunami in March last year whose impact has affected the global economy. Mr. Angara said the proposed center will conduct science-based research and draw up strategies for forecasting, early warning and disaster mitigation. It will also provide appropriate training for agencies of the national government and with concerned local government units.

The center will coordinate with concerned agencies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and National Mapping National Mapping and Resource Information Authority with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Taiwan’s National Development and Reform Commission, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Nations, Mr. Angara said.

“Because satellite data will come from NASA (National Atmospheric and Space Administration), JAXA and NDRMMC, and most typhoons that hit land in the Philippines then proceed to Taiwan, Japan and other Asian countries, data generated and modeled in Philippine terrain will be important to the region and crucial in this partnership,” he explained.

The Philippines has been identified as one of the countries vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The latest calamity to hit the country was tropical storm Sendong (international name: Washi) that devastated Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities in Northern Mindanao more than two weeks ago. Floods that were caused by heavy rains killed over a thousand, surpassing the death toll of tropical storm Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) in 2009. Meanwhile, Mr. Angara said in a separate statement that other issues that will be taken up in the APPF include the promotion of cultural, educational and personal exchanges; and energy and food security.

APPF groups the Philippines, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Fiji, Micronesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, the US, Ecuador and Costa Rica.