MANILA — Scientists on Thursday weighed in on China’s supposed destruction of corals in Ozul Reef and Sabina Shoal, both within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Presiding over the Senate Finance Subcommittee’s discussion on the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) proposed P25.6 billion budget next year, Sen. Francis Tolentino asked scientists if there were studies stating that coral destruction could result to tsunamis and higher waves.
“Kapag dinurog na ang corals, may posibilidad nga bang mas malakas ang alon? At pag lumindol, hindi mahaharang ang malakas na alon, dahil yung energy ng waves na dapat madi-dissipate ng corals ay lalong lalakas?” Tolentino asked.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Director Teresito Bacolcol in response said mangroves are the ones that serve as defense to big waves more than the corals.
DOST Secretary Renato Solidum agreed and said that submerged corals do not help much in controlling huge waves.
“If we compare it with the Great Barrier Reef then, may impact. But if the corals are submerged and is narrow, then mangrove is better. But definitely, theoretically it can minimize the wave,” Solidum told the committee.
Solidum added that corals still prevent “wave erosion” just like what happened in Boracay when the past administration ordered its 6-month closure for the island's rehabilitation.
As to the damaged corals in Rozul Reef (Ioquis Reef) and Escoda Shoal (Sabina Shoal), Solidum said that marine life in the area could still be revived through coral reforestation.
Bacolcol meantime admitted his agency’s difficulty in filling up its vacant positions due to the absence of takers.
Out of the 252 available positions in PHIVOLCS, 43 slots remained unfilled.
According to Bacolcol, one problem is their low starting pay at P21,000 or Salary Grade 9.
Bacolcol said they cannot hire fresh graduates because of the requirement that their engineers must have at least one year experience.
“Ang requirement ay engineer or geologist na may one year experience. Hindi ka maka-hire ng fresh grad dyan kasi sweldo mo P21,000. Maghahanap na lang sila ng ibang trabaho," added Solidum, who used to head the PHIVOLCS.
In response, Tolentino directed the DOST to restructure the agency’s positions, along with the consideration to increase the pay scale for entry level position.
In the same hearing, Philippine Science High School Deputy Executive Director Rod Allan de Lara appealed to panel members to reconsider their originally submitted 2024 budget amounting to P4.2 billion.
Under the National Expenditure Program (NEP), PSHS only got P2.7 billion.
The budget cut will affect their digitalization program, De Lara said.
Tolentino, however, is confident that PSHS can still manage even without computers and digitalization program because of its usually outstanding students.