Statement of the Palace on Taal Volcano

The Palace is closely monitoring the situation of Taal Volcano.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has upgraded the Alert Status to Level 3, which means increasing the tendency towards an eruption.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has already given instructions to undertake measures necessary to place the people within the perimeter of Taal out of the danger zone.

Concerned agencies of the national government are now working closely with the Provincial Government of Batangas to ensure the safety of the residents, including their evacuation.

We advise the public to continue to remain vigilant.

Salvador S. Panelo

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel

& Presidential Spokesperson

Commercial building collapses in Padada, many shoppers feared trapped

A 3-storey commercial building in Padada, Davao del Sur collapsed after a 6.9 magnitude quake hit the province Sunday afternoon.

Reports showed that commercial store South Green Trade collapsed while several people were shopping inside.

Engr. Luke Cadoyas, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer, disclosed that four injured people who were near the building when the incident happened, were rescued as of 3:30pm.

Cadoyas said in a phone interview, that while the MDRRMO continues its rescue and retrieval operations, he called for urgent assistance from authorities admitting that his team is not equipped and skilled.

He said that two-storey Canlas Commercial building, another merchandising store, also collapsed.

But no casualties were reported as of this time. An old water reservoir located at the public cemetery also collapsed, which injured eight residents, Cadoyas reported.

A six-year-old girl meanwhile died in Matanao town when the wall of her house collapsed during the temblor.

Matanao Mayor Vincent F. Fernandez said the fatality identified as Cherlbechen Imgador was inside their house in Barangay Asinan, Matanao, Davao del Sur, when she was hit on the head by the wall of their house which collapsed due to the intensity of the quake. She was rushed to the Disaster Center but was pronounced dead on arrival.

in Davao City, Acting Mayor Sebastian Duterte ordered for the suspension of classes on Monday due to the aftershocks and so that structural engineers could check on the school buildings.

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In Kidapawan City, a landslide reportedly happened in Umpag Village, Sitio Mawig, Barangay Balabag.

Philippine eagle stranded in Sarangani beach

A Philippine eagle is stranded in the shore of Maasim, Sarangani. In a Facebook post by one Monkasa Kamal Molod, the eagle was seen at the beach of Bantangan in Barangay Lumatil.

The eagle seems tied to a log. It was not known if the eagle sustained injuries.

The eagle has since been rescued by the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

The female Philippine Eagle weighing 5.185 kilos was said to have been retrieved in the sea 100 meters from the shoreline by a fishing crew on December 13 and was kept in custody in Sitio Dampilan, Barangay Lumatil before its turnover to authorities on December 14.

The eagle, reportedly observed to be flying around fishing boats for three days, was rescued by the Kamal family around 2 pm on December 13 and immediately reported to Alejandra Sison, municipal environment and natural resources officer of Maasim.

On January 2, 2017, a Philippine Eagle was found by a resident of Barangay Batian in nearby Maitum town which is within Mt. Busa complex, a declared key biodiversity area and an important bird area. It is home to critically endangered, threatened, vulnerable and rare bird species

Ali Kamal, 75, a resident of Sitio Dampilan, Barangay Lumatil narrated that a big bird was spotted for three days staying at fishing boats until it was rescued at sea when it was unable to fly out on December 13.

Cornelio Ramirez Jr. (3rd from right), executive director of the Sarangani-based Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC) and veterinarian Roy Mejorada (2nd from left) of ECPC join the Philippine Eagle Foundation’s (PEF) Ruel Taraya (2nd from right) and Domingo Tadena (behind), consultant of PEF; and Guiller Opiso (extreme left), Geographic Information System coordinator; and Mangayo Macapodi (extreme right) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Barangay Lumatil on December 14 to turn over the rescued raptor to the Davao City-based PEF for assessment. 

IBC 2019 kicks off in Mati

The International Biodiversity Conference 2019 kicks off in the City of Mati as several international delegates arrived since Monday for the 3-day event.

IBC 2019 will convene around the theme “Biodiversity for the People: From Ridge to Reefs”.

Attendees are researchers, environmental managers, and other stakeholders who are taking strategic actions in mainstreaming opportunities to capitalize biodiversity from ridge to reef as a toll to safeguard sustainable development for the people.

IBC 2019 will showcase the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the newest Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as Pujada Bay Landscape and Seascape of the City of Mati.

Host Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology said the event will facilitate the exchange of information, lessons learned and catalyze action among the participants to safeguarding global biodiversity that will ultimately benefit the quality of life and economic sustainability of the people.

The venue of IBC 2019 is at Honey’s Hotel where, aside from the conference proper there is also an exhibit.

In a message by City of Mati Mayor Michelle Nakpil Rabat, duly represented by Vice Mayor Glenda Rabat-Gayta, the city mayor welcomed all the delegates as she expressed hope that the international conference would benefit the city’s ultimate goal of protecting and nurturing the environment so that it can be enjoyed by our future generations.

“Striking a balance between protecting the environment and allowing people to make a living using the natural resources around is somewhat like making a balancing act on a high-wire — dangerous but doable,” Mayor Michelle said.

Among the topics to be discussed in the conference are interconnecting ecosystems, sustainable management of biodiversity, innovations for biodiversity conservation, sustainable management of biodiversity, biodiversity and food security, interconnecting ecosystems, among others.

Among the studies to be presented during parallel sessions are:

1. Characteristics and habitat survival preferences of fauna in the Mati protected landscape and its implications to integrated watershed management to be presented by Ruben Amparado of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology

2. Breaking the natural steward’s myth: cases of indigenous culture-based conservation of Philippine eagles in the Philippines to be presented by Jimbea Lucino of the Philippine Eagle Foundation

3. Three decades of Philippine primate studies: research gaps and opportunities for Philippine primatology to be presented by Lief Erickson Gamalo of the University of the Philippines Mindanao

4. Birds feeding on Cebu mistletoe Lepeostegeres cebuensis (Loranthacaeae) in Nug-as Forest, Cebu, Central Philippines to be presented by Geraldine Quinones of the Negros Oriental State University

5. Three new species of Metapocyrtus Heller 1912 from Mindanao Island, Philippines to be presented by Analyn Cabras of the University of Mindanao

6. Field documentation of Ground Beetles (Carabidae) and Tiger Beetles (Cicindelidae) in Central Cebu Protected Landscape and Alcoy Forested Area, Cebu, Philippines to be presented by Julie Otadoy of the University of San Carlos Talamban Campus

7. DNA Barcodes of bamboo-inhabiting beetles (BIB) in live and postharvested bamboos using the mitochondrial CO1 gene to be presented by Jewel Anne Salvador of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology

Lecturers from the other parts of the world would also be speaking before the delegates, among them are Dr. Yoh Yamashita, Dean of the Educational and Research Unit for Studies of CoHHO of Kyoto University in Japan; Dr. Fernando Siringan of the University of the Philippines; and Dr. Maarten Bijleveld Van Lexmond, chairman of Task Force on Systemic Pesticides in Switzerland. (CIO MATI)

Bong Go pushes for creation of Department of Disaster Resilience

Citing the vulnerability of the country to natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday, November 11, said that it is time for the establishment of a Department of Disaster Resilience to mitigate the consequences and take a more proactive approach to such calamities. 

The proposed measure is currently being tackled in the Senate at the committee level during the Joint Committee Hearing of the National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation; Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation; Ways and Means; and Finance Committees.
“It is high time that we recognize the fact that our country is highly vulnerable to ominous disasters given the frequency of natural calamities, like typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, that hit and affect us every year,” Go said.
“I would like to put on record that only through the realization of the Department of Disaster Resilience can we mitigate the consequences of such calamities, resulting to very few casualties, if not none,” he added.
Concurring with Senator Miguel Zubiri who earlier remarked that the country’s response to natural disasters is simply “reactionary”, Go emphasized the need for a more proactive approach to natural disasters.
“Equally important na proactive tayo bago ang sakuna. Dapat may magtuturo sa mga LGUs kung ano ang dapat gawin sakaling may darating na sakuna. Handa tayo dapat bago pa ito dumating, not only after,” said Go. 
Go also emphasized the importance for the public to know what agency is in charge when it comes to dealing with natural disasters. He stressed that under the current structure, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council merely acts as an ad hoc inter agency coordinating body when dealing with disasters. 
“For example, pag health, DOH ang in charge. Kapag housing, that is why department of housing was created. Kapag may Department of Disaster Resilience po, alam ng tao sino lalapitan at sino in charge. Mas magiging mabilis at maayos ang pagresponde natin para matulungan ang mga kababayan nating apektado ng sakuna,” he said. 
The senator cited the recent earthquakes in Mindanao, which led to numerous casualties and economic losses, as a proof of the country’s need for improved preparedness when dealing with such catastrophes.
“In terms of economic impact, it is projected that earthquakes could lead to a temporary rise in poverty and delay in infrastructure projects, on top of the costs and losses incurred by civilians and businesses in the region,” Go said. 
“Isa po ako sa mga naunang pumunta para makapagbigay ng pakikidalamhati at makapaghatid ng tulong sa ating mga kababayan na naging biktima ng kalunos-lunos na paglindol sa iba’t ibang parte ng Mindanao. Nais ko pong ipabatid sa lahat na ang aking serbisyo ay walang pinipili, ako po ay laging bukas sa ating mga kababayan para makapagbigay ng tulong at handang makinig sa lahat ng inyong hinaing,” he added. 
Go said that during his visit, it has become clear that a comprehensive, specialized, and holistic approach is the most effective way to address the catastrophic effects and mitigate the adverse impacts caused by natural disasters.
The senator filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 205 or the “Disaster Resilience Act of 2019”. The measure proposes for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience, “an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.”
The bill seeks to establish a clear system of responsibility for disaster preparedness and response in all levels of the government, given the increasing number and devastation brought about by various disasters.
Through the proposed measure, the existing Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) offices will be renamed as Local Disaster Resilience Offices. A Disaster Resilience Fund will also be established to finance DDR’s operations, disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness, response, recovery, rehabilitation and building forward better programs, projects and activities formulated in the national level.
The National Disaster Operations Center will be established, with its corresponding Alternative Command and Control Centers, while a Disaster Resilience Research and Training Institute will also be created to provide training and to collect, consolidate, manage and share knowledge and information resources to boost disaster resilience.
Currently, disaster-related responsibilities are shared among various government agencies. Stating his recent visit to North Cotabato, which was one of the provinces hardest hit by the Mindanao earthquakes in late October, Go expressed his frustration over the lack of centralized response to the disaster. 
“Sa totoo lang, si Pangulong Duterte, gusto niya talagang magkaroon ng isang point person na mamamahala sa lahat. Dapat magkaroon ng secretary-level na mayroong authority.
“Kung may (isang) secretary (in-charge), siya na ang makikipag-coordinate. Noong nagpunta kami ng North Cotabato, wala naman taga Office of Civil Defense (OCD). Ilan po ba ang personnel meron kayo dun?” Go asked OCD Usec. Ricardo B. Jalad during the hearing who then responded that there were twenty OCD personnel on ground in North Cotabato to respond to the earthquake. 
“Isipin mo 20 lang, eh ang biktima 20,000,” Go lamented, stressing the need for an executive department with enough personnel who would assist disaster victims. 
“Kailangan talaga ng isang department. Kung mayroon ka nang sarili mong departamento, madali mo i-gather ang personnel. Kapag hiwa-hiwalay, mahirap i-gather. Hindi makahihintay ang mga biktima tapos napakaliit ng opisina ng OCD. That’s why I’m pushing for this department.”
Go added that the creation of the DDR is also one of the priorities of President Rodrigo Duterte as stated in his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“Kasama ‘yan sa kanyang SONA. Priority n’ya ‘yan. Sabi nga ni Senator Panfilo Lacson, kulang-kulang ang resource persons ngayon. Hindi sila interesado. Pero ang ating Pangulo ay interesado. Punta kayo mismo sa tinamaan ng lindol. Kulang-kulang ang tulong. Ngayon, kung merong DDR, ito na makikipag-coordinate sa lahat,” said Go. 
Ending his statement, Go urged those in the hearing to act immediately to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on the country. 
“Huwag na po tayong magsayang ng oras. Huwag na po natin antayin na may dumating pang matinding kalamidad na tumama sa ating bansa. It is time to scale up our preparedness and resiliency against natural disasters. Panahon na para magkaroon tayo ng ahensyang magbibigay ng buong atensyon sa ating paghahanda at pagresponde sa mga kalamidad at sakuna,” Go concluded.