Maximize use of geohazard maps to prevent tragedies -- Cimatu

January 07, 2019

MAXIMIZE the use of the geohazard maps so that landslide and flood-prone areas can be easily identified and stringent measures will be prepared to whatever tragedies will happen particularly during typhoons.

This was the call of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu to all local government units (LGUs) in view of the recent tragedies involving landslides that struck MIMAROPA, the Bicol Region, and Eastern Visayas due to typhoon Usman, wherein more than 100 people have died.

He disclosed that the geohazard maps are readily available to the LGUs.

Cimatu explained that under Republic Act No. 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, local chief executives are tasked to chair local disaster risk reduction and management councils (LDRRMCs) at the provincial, city, and municipal levels.

He stressed that it is the council’s responsibility to come up with disaster management and risk reduction plans that will minimize if not totally prevent casualties during calamities.

“The DENR for its part contributes to DRR efforts through the geohazard maps which the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) distributes to all LGUs so they can identify landslide and flood-prone areas,” Cimatu said.

Under the said law, LDRRMCs should set the direction, development, implementation and coordination of DRRM programs within their areas.

This includes integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into local development plans and programs, as well as recommending forced or preemptive evacuation of residents if necessary.

“I believe that through these maps, the DENR has done its part in protecting the lives of the Filipino people. We encourage LGUs to work hand in hand with us to protect our people,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu added that the geohazard maps are also available online through the MGB website at mgb.gov.ph.

The MGB has also been conducting information, education and communication (IEC) campaigns to help LGUs and communities use and understand the maps.

Cimatu said disasters are bound to happen but based on these maps, local officials can come up, and have in place, disaster risk reduction and management plans or precautionary measures to save lives and avoid damage to property in their areas of jurisdiction.

“These (maps) are even color-coded to indicate areas that are high risk or with high susceptibility to landslides and floods. Thus, having no appropriate information is not an excuse,” he added.

“Given this, LGUs have the obligation to tell the people of the danger of staying in an area for the sake of their livelihood,” Cimatu emphasized.

The DENR’s Geohazard Mapping and Assessment Program is an on-going priority program which is being implemented by the MGB.

Its main objective is to identify areas in the country which are susceptible or vulnerable to various geologic hazards.

Under this program, the 1:10,000 scale landslide and flood susceptibility assessment of 1,634 cities and municipalities were completed. Through the use of these maps, communities at risk can better prepare for natural hazards and avoid disaster.