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Regional Updates (01/28/21)

Volcanologists, local officials allay fears over Pinatubo earthquakes

GOVERNMENT scientists said on Thursday that Mt. Pinatubo remains inactive despite the series of earthquakes recently recorded around the volcano, but at the same time stressed the need for communities to always be on alert for disaster warnings from authorities. “DOST-PHIVOLCS would like to assure the public that Pinatubo Volcano remains at Alert Level 0 and remains in quiescent condition,” said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) in a January 27 advisory. PHIVOLCS, which is under the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), said the earthquakes serve as a reminder “that several faults occur around the volcano and that these can generate earthquake activity that can be sometimes imperceptible and harmless but that can also sometimes be damaging.” From January 20 to 27, the agency recorded 826 “imperceptible earthquakes east-northeast of Pinatubo,” with strongest at magnitude 2.5 on Jan. 25. “Based on the general distribution of located events, these earthquakes were generated along a segment of the Sacobia Lineament, a fault that was last active during the post-eruption period of 1991,” PHIVOLCS said.

The most recent strong earthquake at magnitude 6.1 in the area was on April 22, 2019, which caused fatalities and significant damage to buildings, roads and other structures. “Although there is currently no threat from the above recent earthquake activity, communities and local government units (LGUs) surrounding the volcano, nonetheless, have to be reminded to be always prepared for both earthquake and volcanic hazards and to build on the lessons of what they have experienced in the past years,” PHIVOLCS said. The provincial government of Pampanga and several other local governments have issued statements citing PHIVOLCS to allay residents’ fears. They also assured that disaster preparedness systems are in place and emergency teams are ready to respond. “We are ready in terms of logistics in the event of a natural disaster. Ang Mt. Pinatubo eruption hindi bago sa atin. Mas handa tayo ngayon (is not new to us. We are more prepared now,)” said Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin, Jr. in a statement. Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption on June 15, 1991 was one of the largest in the 20th century, with some surrounding towns buried under lahar and gas cloud was dispersed around the globe. — MSJ

DA partners with state universities for agri sector data

THE Agriculture department is teaming up with 32 state universities and colleges for research activities aimed at improving and updating sector data and create a regional database on agricultural and rural development. Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar  signed the agreement on Jan. 26 with various institutions such as Batangas State University, University of the Philippines–National College of Public Administration and Governance, Pampanga State Agricultural University, and University of Eastern Philippines, among others. According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), the University of the Philippines (UP) will receive P3 million as budgetary support, while the other academic institutions will get P1.5 million each for the project. The fund will come from the DA’s P90-billion budget this year. “The agreement will enhance good governance, transparency, proper planning, designing, implementation of various programs and projects of DA,” Mr. Dar said. Under the partnership, the DA will fund SUCs (state universities and colleges) to gather information on the impact of the government’s programs on target communities and beneficiaries, do a survey on current sources of funding for activities of farmers and fisherfolk, analyze the utilization of technology in every region, and validate local farmers and fisherfolk databases. The University of the Philippines will spearhead the development of the sampling design and other research materials. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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