Philippine Standard Time

Left photo: (Seated L-R): DLLO Director Lita Suerte-Felipe, DOST-PHIVOLCS Director Dr. Teresito Bacolcol, House Committee on Science and Technology Secretary Mr. Donald Caballero; Right photo: Dr. Bacolcol presents one of the modernization plans of the Institute

A Stakeholders' Consultation Meeting on the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS) Modernization Bill was held at PHIVOLCS Auditorium, Diliman, Quezon City on April 18, 2023, with the support from the DOST - Department of Legislative Liaison Office (DLLO) and the House of the Representatives Committee on Science and Technology.

In his speech, DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum, Jr. reiterated the need to modernize DOST-PHIVOLCS. “We hope to get your support so that we can make sure that we are able, as an organization, to develop safer and resilient communities from geologic hazards that are prevalent in the country,” Secretary Solidum said.

At present, there are 117 seismic stations throughout the country. The bill targets to build at least 300 sensors for better and faster detection of earthquakes. Moreover, only 10 out of 24 active volcanoes are being monitored, only two of which–Taal and Mayon Volcano–have complete monitoring systems, when around 5 million people are exposed to hazards due to volcanic eruptions. Lastly, he emphasized the need to study the areas to be affected by tsunamis, the risks this will create and more importantly, the need to improve the monitoring and warning systems for tsunamis in the country.

“We are also generating earthquake and volcano hazard maps, so if there's no modernization, it will probably take several decades to install the ideal number of stations that we want and several years to generate hazard maps for all provinces and provinces with active volcanoes,” said DOST-PHIVOLCS Director Dr. Teresito C. Bacolcol.

Dr. Bacolcol further stressed that there is a huge gap in terms of human resource and plantilla position in the Institute.

“Hiring of temporary staff is a big help but this is not sustainable. What happens is we hire them, we train them and then they leave because walang security of tenure. So, we really need more plantilla positions to remedy this problem,” he said.

The PHIVOLCS Modernization Act, once enacted, shall enable the Institute to improve its services by upgrading its physical resources and performance such as building additional seismic stations in the country, augmenting its earthquake, volcano, and tsunami monitoring capabilities and strengthen its human resource development program. This modernization will help the Local Government Units (LGUs) and communities to prepare for disasters.

As of this writing, the PHIVOLCS Modernization Bill has already been approved on the Committee level. Some of the stakeholders have already expressed their support for the modernization and are looking forward to continuing this partnership.