By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reminded local government units (LGUs) to maximize the use of geohazard maps that will better prepare communities in times of disaster.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu pointed out that under Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, local chief executives are tasked to chair local disaster risk reduction and management councils (LDRRMCs) at the provincial, city, and municipal levels.
It is the council’s responsibility to come up with disaster management and risk reduction plans that will minimize if not totally prevent casualties during calamities.
“The DENR for its part contributes to DRR (disaster risk reduction) efforts through the geohazard maps which the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) distributes to all LGUs so they can identify landslide- and flood-prone areas,” Cimatu said.
Under the said law, LDRRMCs should set the direction, development, implementation, and coordination of DRRM programs within their areas.
This includes integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into local development plans and programs, as well as recommending forced or preemptive evacuation of residents if necessary.
“I believe that through these maps, the DENR has done its part in protecting the lives of the Filipino people,” Cimatu pointed out.
“We encourage LGUs to work hand in hand with us to protect our people,” he added.
DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGU Concerns Benny Antiporda said concerned local officials should utilize the geohazard maps, which are also available online through the MGB website (mgb.gov.ph) as basis for crafting LDRRM Plans.
MGB has also been conducting information, education, and communication campaigns to help LGUs and communities to use and understand the maps.
Antiporda added that disasters are bound to happen but based on these maps, local officials can come up, and have in place, disaster risk reduction and management plans or precautionary measures to save lives and avoid damage to property in their areas of jurisdiction.
“These (maps) are even color-coded to indicate areas that are high risk or with high susceptibility to landslides and floods. Thus, having no appropriate information is not an excuse,” Cimatu said.
“Given this, LGUs have the obligation to tell the people of the danger of staying in an area for the sake of their livelihood,” he added.