(Photo courtesy of DOST Provincial Director Ritchie Mae Guno) 

MANILA – At least eight remote villages in Malaybalay, Bukidnon are now reaping the benefits of the radio system infrastructure built through the help of the Department of Science and Technology in Region 10 (DOST-10), Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said on Friday.

In a taped report, de la Peña said these remote villages are occupied by indigenous people. The DOST-10, he said, initiated the installation of an encryption-enabled radio repeater system.

A 120-ft. radio antenna was erected, and eight VHF-UHF crossband handheld radios were turned over to officials of Barangays St. Peter, Zamboanggita, Caburacanan, Busdi, Indalsa, Mapulo, Kulaman, and Silae, he added.

"Digitized VHF amateur radio communication is important in those areas. Upper Pulangi areas is a boundary of Agusan del Sur, a known area for blind spot telco network communication," DOST Provincial Director Ritchie Mae Guno told the Philippine News Agency.

Guno emphasized that during strong weather disturbances such as "Sendong" and "Pablo", as well as during big events, the telco signal in Bukidnon is being put on and off for security reasons.

She cited that in instances such as cell bandwidth being overwhelmed, amateur radio communication would save many lives.

The initiative will be useful for a communication network in four disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) key areas: prevention and mitigation, disaster preparedness, disaster response, and recovery and rehabilitation, according to de la Peña.

This will improve the early warning communication exchange of local government unit's (LGU) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Unit and Barangay DRRM team, he added.

Guno said the radio antenna was installed last December, and that the DOST has allocated PHP377,050 for this initiative under the Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) Project.

The LGU of Malaybalay City provided PHP93,600 as counterpart funding.

Meanwhile, de la Peña said the DOST-10 has partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to provide orientation and training to capacitate partner communities on the operation and maintenance of the devices.

Radio etiquette protocols and disaster communication training were also provided, he said. (PNA