Press Release
December 5, 2006

2007 budget to provide funds to purchase radars that can
predict rain volume during typhoons, says Drilon

The proposed P1.126 trillion national budget for 2007, which was approved by the Senate Monday night, includes an additional appropriation of P200 million that would allow the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) to update its radar systems and be able to predict the amount of rainfall during typhoons, Senate Finance Committee Chief Franklin Drilon said today.

Drilon said the additional funds for the purchase of two Doppler Radars next year could be the answer to criticisms that Pagasa and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) failed to provide sufficient warnings and information to Bicol residents who were devastated by Super typhoon "Reming" over the weekend.

"Right now, Pagasa's equipment can predict the wind speed during a forthcoming typhoon but it does not have the capability to predict the amount of rains that the typhoon would dump in an affected area," said Drilon, who is also Liberal Party president.

According to Drilon, the two Doppler Radars, reportedly worth P74 million each, can be deployed in the Bicol Region.

"These radars will certainly help in the disaster preparedness infrastructure," Drilon said. Another P11 million had also been appropriated for the construction of buildings that will house the radars, he added.

Earlier, Drilon noted the government's disaster preparedness agencies such as Pagasa and Philvocs came under fire for allegedly failing to predict the amount of rainfall spawned by Typhoon Reming and triggered landslides in Albay province, killing hundreds of persons.

Phivolcs deputy director Bartolome Bautista said Phivolcs should not be blamed for the deaths, noting that they issued advance warning to local government officials about the impending disaster. He said it was complacency and lack of awareness among the people that killed hundreds of people in Albay.

On Monday night, the Senate approved on third and final reading the proposed 2007 national budget but not before slashing the allocations for the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the Supreme Court and the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFACom) and realigning these.

Voting 16-0, the senators passed the budget measure as submitted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Congress, with a few amendments. Drilon said the Senate's version was lower by P8.4 billion (in programmed funds) than the budget approved by the House of the Representatives last month.

Drilon noted that Pagasa intended to purchase a total of 10 Doppler Radars to complete the update of the country's disaster preparedness program by year 2010 starting with the purchase of the two radars next year.

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