NATURAL CALAMITY. Portions of Zapote Road in Bacoor City, Cavite are flooded in this Oct. 30, 2022 photo. The province was among those hardest hit by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng the day before. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – To avoid loss of lives and properties during calamities, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units (LGUs) must collaborate to update geohazard and multihazard maps.

Senator Loren Legarda said funding may be obtained from the DENR’s PHP24-billion budget for 2023, stressing how critical information on incoming natural hazards are in times of disasters.

“Local officials sometimes deflect the blame by claiming they were not sufficiently informed or warned early enough even if we have the PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) Modernization Act. Perhaps this could have been avoided if we had knowledge of the geohazard map. And not just geo, but multirisk and multihazard,” Legarda said in a news release on Friday.

About 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippines yearly, with about 70 percent occurring from July through October.

The DENR has already provided maps to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) GeoRisk Philippines, a multi-agency program that serves as the central source of information on natural hazards and risk assessment of landslide and flood-prone areas.

The maps have been distributed but need to be studied further on how to improve communications and capacity-building programs that will also include the Department of the Interior and Local Government during planning.

Based on DENR records, around 200,000 maps, at a scale of 1:10,000, have been produced and distributed to LGUs, national government agencies, schools, civil society groups, and private organizations engaged in disaster mitigation and relief activities.

Legarda said the DOST, DENR, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Public Works and Highways must educate the LGUs on climate change risk and multihazard assessments.

“I hope to see DENR be an active partner with regard to this because this would mean saving lives,” Legarda said. (PNA)