UPRI speaks at the Public Service Continuity Planning Workshop for CHED

Cesca Llanes of UPRI was one of the speakers at the Public Service Continuity Planning Workshop for CHED that was held from Nov 13-14 at the Institute for Small Scale Industries (ISSI). The workshop aimed to equip state universities and colleges (SUCs) with tools that would help them mitigate risks from man-made and natural hazards in their respective jurisdictions. 

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Ms. Llanes discussing the country's risk profile

Attended by representatives from each region, Ms. Llanes discussed the Philippines’ risk profile, while citing examples of different hazards across the country that were successfully mitigated. She explained basic disaster risk reduction (DRR) terms such as hazard, risk, and vulnerability. Knowing the definition and usage of these terms are integral to avoiding disasters. Two important aspects of DRR, warning and response, were also discussed. Warning based on weather forecasts and near-real time information must be clearly communicated by the government to the local government and their respective communities. Response, on the other hand, requires long-term education and engagement of the community, hence the important role SUCs play in participatory risk assessment.

Ms. Llanes then presented the Disaster Timeline, explaining that more comprehensive policies on DRR strengthens the nation’s resilience to hazards. Fewer events that failed in disaster prevention occurred over time as government initiatives such as RA 10121, Project NOAH, and PDRA-NDRRMC were put in place. Nevertheless, there is plenty of room for improvement. Aside from a strong DRR framework, hazard maps must also be scenario-based, to consider not just historical data, but future events as well. Ms. Llanes gave examples of different numerical simulations for floods, storm surges, and landslides. 

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Participants during the event included regional representatives

The talk ended with Ms. Llanes enumerating key messages pertaining to  DRR. Hazard maps must be produced using high-resolution data because planning must be done using a bottom-up approach. Barangays should initiate disaster mitigation efforts, with support from the national government. Local capacity and local resources should be used in disaster mitigation plans, because the best people who can help vulnerable Filipinos are themselves. 

Open data policy is necessary so scientists can better collaborate to produce the best products. Data using the best technology must be accessible to the public, using available tools to disseminate information. Communicating hazards, therefore, is a collaborative effort between scientists, social scientists, writers, artists, and experts in other fields. Everybody must participate in the disaster effort, including the private sector, civil society organizations, and even religious groups because all of them are affected by the impacts of hazards.

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With the participants and organizers of the Public Service Continuity Planning Workshop

After the talk, some of the questions raised by the participants were about the resource allocation of the national government to SUCs. If CHED is pushing for SUCs to play a bigger role in DRR and community resilience, then additional funding must be allotted for evacuation plans and mitigation efforts to be continuous. As of this writing, negotiations between CHED and the academe are currently ongoing. Another question raised was the availability of the book Sakunang Darating, Saklolo’y Tayo Rin: Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Handbook for Academic Institutions. ISSI coordinated with UP Press for conference participants who are interested in availing the DRRM manual for their respective universities.