Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Fortunato de la Peña expressed the DOST’s gratitude to JICA for their continued valuable assistance and support to the strengthening of disaster prevention and preparedness in the country and in the whole region during the ceremonial turn-over of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Grant in Aid of Doppler Radar Systems and Facilities at the PAGASA Weather and Forecasting Center, Agham Road, Diliman Quezon City on February 03, 2017.

He said that these Aparri and Guiuan Radar Systems and Facilities, which were made possible through the grant-in-aid of the JICA, under the Project for the Improvement of Meteorological Radar Systems in the Philippines, would no doubt further boost PAGASA’s forecasting capability and modernize tracking to contribute to the government’s proactive preparedness program against the impact of extreme weather events.

These meteorological radar systems which are part of the project’s Three Radar System located for the eastern seaboard of the country, including the Virac radar which was inaugurated in May 2012, will significantly complement the goal to have complete coverage and monitoring of weather systems throughout the whole country, said de la Peña.

They will serve as early warning systems to guide local government units (LGUs) and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to cope with disaster preparedness and resilience planning. We give credit to these LGUs in helping the government achieve zero-casualty in times of weather disturbance, he also said.

The radar systems under the PAGASA Modernization program is in line with the DOST priority initiatives in disaster risk reduction and management in complement with the national climate change adaptation plans. The DOST under the new administration, has set up priorities to strengthen national capability for disaster prediction.

The DOST has called for new ways to address pressing concerns in areas of disaster risk reduction and management and its inclusion as priority in the national government’s development agenda after what happened with typhoon Yolanda. Among the paradigm shifts in disaster risk reduction (DRR) that the government has implemented were risk information and early warning system.

On climate change adaptation and DRR, the DOST will allot a big percentage of its budget in research and development. PAGASA will have a 500% higher budget to help the agency step up implementation of its projects to ensure safety from, natural disasters through accurate mapping and assessment, he further said.

With these modern radar facilities, PAGASA is another step closer to achieving a world-class observing network, data processing and forecasting system to deliver better meteorological and hydrological services, the Secretary added.

Dr. Vicente Malano, PAGASA Administrator who welcomed guests and participants, expressed thanks to the People of Japan through the JICA to their commitment and valuable supports to the DOST and the LGUs of Cagayan and Eastern Samar in general and the LGUs of Aparri and Guiuan specifically for the Doppler Radar Systems and Facilities handed over to PAGASA for Aparri and Guiuan completed the three-radar system of JICA including the Virac radar which was turned-over in 2012, he said.

More radar facilities are planned to be established to provide more accurate forecasting and monitoring of heavy-rain causing weather disturbances throughout the country. These will enable us to tract down these weather systems and allow us to take necessary actions against the negative impacts of these events including pre-emptive evacuation before it hits land especially in the high risks and vulnerable communities), he also said.

Under the PAGASA modernization act, program lined-up, include the establishment of a High Frequency Doppler Radar (HFDR) Network to be established in the main shipping lanes in the country, improvement of aviation service, through the installations of lightning detection network and the enhancement of flood forecasting and warning services in the 18 major river basins of the country, he further said.

PAGASA continues to renew efforts on how to improve its services as it underlines the importance disaster preparedness to help the country to be more prepared and to lessen or totally eliminate casualty from natural calamities, PAGASA Administrator added.

His Excellency Kazunide Ishikawa, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Republic of the Philippines and Honorable, DOST Secretary de la Peña led the unveiling of the Marker assisted by other local government officials.

JICA Chief Representative Susumo Ito during the handover ceremony for Doppler Radars to PAGASA, in his message said that “we hope of course that strong disasters will not happen”. Through our development cooperation with PAGASA, we hope that disaster response will become more guided.

He thanked PAGASA for its support to JICA’s activities in the Philippines. “Our partnership has withstood many typhoons and floods and we hope that by working together, we’ll achieve a safer and disaster resilient future”, he said.

Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa, in his remarks during the occasion mentioned about the historic State Visit of their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan to the Philippine in January kicked off this year.

He also mentioned President Duterte’s official visit to Japan last October and the still fresh memory for them of the Japanese Prime Minister Abe who was enthusiastically welcomed by the Filipinos in Manila and Davao just three weeks ago.

At the summit meeting Prime Minister Abe clearly stated that Japan would continue to assist the Philippines in its endeavor to develop the society, in a wide range of fields such as infrastructure improvement, human resource development, poverty reduction and others using Japanese technology and knowledge.

Japan and the Philippines are both disaster prone countries and disaster risk reduction is one of the most important areas of cooperation, and it is with this spirit that Japan decided to assist the Philippines by enhancing the capability of PAGASA to effectively minimize and prevent damages that tropical cyclones and other severe weather phenomena may cause.

The Ambassador expressed hope that the project will further strengthen the cooperative ties and friendship that Japan and the Philippines have built through the years.(PSciJourn MegaManila).