MANILA, Philippines – On average, about 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year. Thus once the rainy season begins, both government and media organizations brace for the worst that could happen in a country that is so used to disasters.
But during typhoons in particular, Raymund Liboro of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said journalists should keep a close watch on the “killer factors:” Torrential rains, landslides, winds, and storm surges.
Liboro’s wish list on disaster reporting in PH:I – Influence public attitude towards disaster preparedness
N – Neutralize inaccuracies such as rumors or perception
G – Gather and transmit data for effective response
A – Alert government efforts and relief organization
T – Total coverage on disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and relief
“Scientifically, iyon ang pumapatay (those factors kill),” said Liboro, DOST’s Assistant Secretary for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, during the launch of the #ZeroCasualty campaign on Wednesday, October 8, which was organized by Rappler in coordination with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid), the Australian Embassy in Manila, as well as other public and non-governmental institutions.
The focus is on these factors during pre-disaster risk assessment with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other government agencies, he added. (READ: Salceda to NCR mayors: What happens to disaster funds?)
In line with this, state weather bureau PAGASA and DOST’s Project Noah provide rainfall maps, wind maps, and information on potential landslides and storm surges. But Liboro thinks the media can still improve on being the “mediator” between government and citizens.
“Personally, I think media plays a big role in the entire equation. Media is actually the mediator. Our problem is, if we are pushing all these information and data out, it’s very critical in the warning process,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Liboro cited a classic example of how information was not utilized in the past. During Typhoon Santi (international codename Nari) in October 2013, he noted that a tweet of Project Noah Director Mahar Lagmay on Santi’s path only got 9 retweets, while a “Hello” tweet by Thai actor Mario Maurer got 165 retweets.
“Sobrang dami na naming information na nilalabas; we need mediators. Project Agos is very timely – we need to strengthen mediator tools natin because no matter how loud we shout, ‘pag ‘di niyo iyan i-amplify, multiply, push, retweet, ‘di makukumpleto yung [communication] process,” he told members of the media.
(We are already releasing a lot of information; we need mediators. Project Agos is very timely – we need to strengthen mediator tools natin because no matter how loud we shout, if you don’t amplify, multiply, push, retweet, the communication process won’t be complete.)
In 2013, Rappler launched Project Agos – an initiative that brings together government, the private sector and citizens to tackle climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction using technology. (READ: ‘#ZeroCasualty during disasters not just about numbers’)
“We want to make every computer and cellphone a reporting portal directly to authorities who can help [during disasters],” Rappler CEO Maria Ressa said on October 8.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said Project Agos will make information more accessible to the public and help empower communities. The Australian Embassy in the Philippines initiated the #ZeroCasualty conversation with Rappler.
NDRRMC Executive Director Alexander Pama said Project Agos works and is effective, “but we have a lot of fine-tuning to do.” – Rappler.com
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