DENR reiterates importance of IEC campaigns on geohazard maps

AN OFFICIAL of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau Central Visayas (MGB-7) reiterated the importance of Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) campaigns on updated geohazard maps by local government units (LGUs).

This is to ensure that the public is aware of whether their area is under low, medium, or highly susceptible to calamities such as flash floods and landslides to prevent casualties.

Hearty Marie Rizarri, information officer of MGB-7, told SunStar Cebu on Monday, November 28, 2022, that they have been sending LGUs in the region updated geohazard maps since 2015.

Rizarri encouraged officials, particularly barangay personnel, to monitor any changes in their geological landforms, such as land cracks, and report it to their local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) for them to track it down.

"When they are in the place where there are cracks when there is a flood, the rain will soften the ground. If they see possible sinkholes, they can make a request. The LGUs will be the first to attend it. They have to report to the local DRRMO and City or Municipality officials. They have to give a situational report, then coordinate with the geologists of MGB so we can collaborate," said Rizarri.

She said a well-participated geohazard map by the LGUs, community, and other concerned local agencies such as MGB and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) is essential for having effective evacuation and disaster preparedness programs.

"That's why the local government unit has a lot of responsibilities, local DRRMO, but we don't really blame them because they are taking care of other things, so still we made them aware. Usually, we are the ones who let them know about the map when they ask for it. Aside from that, it's on our website (https://lgsd.mgb.gov.ph). So, people can check their areas publicly," Rizarri added.

Earlier, Senator Loren Legarda said DENR and LGUs must collaborate to update geohazard and multihazard maps.

Legarda said funding may be obtained from the DENR's P24-billion budget for 2023, stressing how critical information on incoming natural hazards is 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 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, November 25.

"I hope to see DENR be an active partner with regard to this because this would mean saving lives," she added. (HIC)