Press Release
September 3, 2010


The Senate Committee on Science and Technology, chaired by Senator Edgardo J. Angara, yesterday held a hearing to tackle the issue of disaster preparedness in the Philippines, in particular the capability of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) in forecasting extreme weather.

Among those present were representatives from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), PAG-ASA, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Manila Observatory, and several other institutions. Also present was the head of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), which Angara also Chairs.

The typhoon Basyang, which unexpectedly tore through Central Luzon, became a key example of the country's lack of dependable weather forecasting and a proper warning system. Basyang caught people unaware, resulting in loss of lives and property.

This disaster was attributed not just to inadequate equipment, but lack of knowledge. Our weather forecasters in other countries had at least a Masters degree, with years of formal training and experience.

"We now know that a one-year course in disaster management or weather analysis is simply not enough. The main question we have now is, how do we train our own people in disaster prediction and forecasting weather patterns?" asked Angara.

The PAG-ASA reported that they have been sending their people to forecasting training courses abroad to gradually become at par with the more advanced nation's weather programs. The other agencies also reported receiving grants for the development of the country's disaster risk reduction programs.

"Our neglect in this regard has been literally disastrous. The key here is to build on what is already existing�we must strive to constantly improve and update our knowledge, so that we can prepare for these situations," said Angara.

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