MANILA, Philippines - The country's weather forecasting system has become more efficient and accurate and has prepared the nation to brace for Typhoon Glenda because of the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP) that financed some projects of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), a senior administration lawmaker said yesterday.
Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas said the DAP funded some components of the DOST’s Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH) and its National Meteorological Climate Center (NMCC) of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
He said weather forecasts made by PAGASA in the past were “hit-or-miss” predictions, and it came to a point that it completely lost its credibility until President Aquino launched Project NOAH through DAP.
Some P275 million from the DAP was allocated for NMCC that equipped PAGASA with “state-of-the-art IT facilities and research laboratories for weather and climate modeling predictions, as well as research and training on various weather-climate hazards.”
Also through the DAP, the government was able to allot another P150 million for the enhancement of PAGASA’s Doppler Radar Network for National Weather Watch, Accurate Forecasting and Flood Early Warning, Treñas said.
The DAP allowed the government to acquire additional state-of-the-art Doppler radars and establish three Doppler radar stations in the western seaboard, which now allows PAGASA to make accurate weather predictions.
PAGASA acting administrator Vicente Malano said among the DAP-funded projects in the bureau are the installation of radar stations in Iloilo, Zamboanga and Busuanga in Palawan.
Malano said the DAP also funded the construction of a new building at the PAGASA complex in Quezon City.
Through these DAP-funded projects, Treñas added the government managed to make a very accurate forecast on Super Typhoon Yolanda, days before it made landfall.
This enabled the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to give advance warnings to local authorities for them to evacuate their constituents because of the powerful nature of the typhoon.
“But because people were used to the old hit-and-miss forecasts of PAGASA, many of them decided to stay home and ignore warnings for them to evacuate to safer grounds. Nonetheless, the number of casualties in Typhoon Yolanda could have been greater if not for PAGASA’s advanced warning,” Treñas said.
The purchase of new equipment again helped the agency in making accurate weather system predictions that forewarned the public of Typhoon Glenda days before it made landfall, he said.
“If not for DAP and if not for PAGASA’s restored credibility, a colossal typhoon like Typhoon Glenda could have been deadly for a lot of people. It’s good that our people now believe in PAGASA’s weather forecasts,” Treñas said.
He said the success of the DOST projects is just one of many reasons why Aquino was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to declare DAP unconstitutional.
Treñas said the President’s disappointment should not be interpreted to mean he is challenging the SC or threatening to take action against the justices.
“He is simply expressing his position on this issue and he has every right to feel disappointed. People should stop putting words into his mouth,” Treñas said.
Treñas said a majority of the members of Congress share Aquino’s position in relation to the DAP issue because of the program’s positive impact on their constituents.
Local officials like Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. expressed his support for the DAP.
“We should thank the President that there was surplus in the budget, unlike his predecessor,” Marañon said.
Marañon agreed with the President as he pointed out the funds under the DAP did not go to Aquino’s pockets but to projects that benefited the people.
The military, for its part, admitted the DAP contributed greatly in the effort to guard the country’s maritime territories.
Defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said the DAP-funded projects had allowed them to increase their monitoring activities. – Alexis Romero, Helen Flores, Marvin Sy, Roel Pareño, Danny Dangcalan