Use those maps
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
In the wake of the death and destruction wrought by Typhoon Sendong, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources reminded local government officials to give serious attention to the geohazard maps that had been distributed to about 1,600 cities and municipalities, and about 4,000 barangays, nationwide, since last year. The maps, prepared by the geologists of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, show the level of susceptibility of an area to hazards such as flooding and landslides.
DENR Secretary Ramon Paje had ordered the maps redistributed to local government units following the 2010 elections to ensure that all newly elected officials have their maps. Briefings were also conducted for local officials down to the barangay level. However let's admit it: had Typhoon Sendong not destroyed large areas of Cagayan De Oro and Iligan City and killed more than a thousand people, those maps that might have gotten no more than a cursory glance before being filed away by most local government officials in this country, and may have never seen the light of day again.
The information in those maps, which show which areas are prone to flooding or landslides, needs to be taken seriously. For the cities and municipalities blessed with strong-willed leaders, those hazardous areas that have been indentified, will hopefully be cleared of human settlements as soon as possible. For the places whose leaders are not as willing to displease voters living in areas identified as hazardous,because they will have to be relocated even when there is no imminent danger, then, hopefully, they will still heed the warnings and install flood warning protocols and devices as well as beef up their disaster response programs and capabilities for those disaster-prone areas.
Scientists and environmentalists who foretold the tragedy that struck Cagayan De Oro and Iligan City were initially dismissed as being too alarmist when they submitted their findings three years ago. The scientists who prepared the geohazard maps did not make them to be able to say “I told you so” when their predictions do come true. Those maps were made to save lives.
We join the DENR Secretary in appealing to all responsible local government officials to use those maps properly.*