Press Release
June 14, 2011


The series of earthquakes that hit Christchurch, New Zealand on Monday should be a sobering reminder to the Philippines to prioritize disaster preparedness, said Senator Edgardo J. Angara.

Quakes with magnitudes of 5.2 and 6.0 shook Christchurch in close succession at midday, followed by another series of smaller quakes. These caused significant damage to infrastructure and injured over 40 people.

These are believed to be the aftershocks of the February 22 quake that killed 181 people. Experts say more aftershocks may occur.

Angara said that the concern for disaster science dies down in the absence of immediate threats to the country, but the follow-up tremors in New Zealand prove that disaster science should remain on top of the government's priorities.

"We should utilize this time to advance our disaster training and research," he said. "We cannot wait for another disaster to strike before we start preparing for it. Ensuring public safety should begin now."

Angara emphasized that effective dissemination information on disaster preparedness measures is crucial in ensuring public safety. He urged the government to harness social media in such campaigns.

The Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), chaired by Angara, is the main proponent of the Philippine Disaster Science Management Center (DSMC). The center is cooperating with local and foreign experts to create a strategic plan to handle disasters. Scientists and engineers from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan will lend their expertise to this endeavor.

The DSMC will use advanced planning and technology to prevent damages from disasters as well as to create more climate-resilient communities.

"Too much of our disaster management efforts are focused on relief," said Angara, citing a recent study conducted by the United Nations. "We need to start using our resources for technology and research aimed at prevention and mitigation."

This is expected to lower not only the number of casualties, but also the costs of disaster management in the Philippines.

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