Aquino unveils 3-D mapping project

 URDANETA, Pangasinan, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III announced Friday the allocation of P1 billion for the creation of a three-dimensional map of the entire country that is designed to improve flood forecasting and related early warning systems. Mr. Aquino made the announcement during the inauguration of the new P243-million Agno River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning System in the nearby town of Rosales.

“One of our proposals is the development of a comprehensive 3-D mapping of the whole Philippines. We will release P1 billion for this,” the President said in a speech. “With this mapping, our perspective of every corner of the country will widen, resulting in an improved capability to know which areas are vulnerable to floods.” The President said this will also give the government more time to help Filipinos at risk from flooding.

“There might be some who'd protest the amount of money that will be spent on this project. They might ask how come such a huge amount of funds would be released. Let me just stress (that) lives would be saved here,” he said.

The Agno River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning System is an early warning facility meant to provide timely, reliable and understandable flood warnings and bulletins in the provinces of Tarlac and Pangasinan. The project cost a total of P243 million, including a P154-million grant from the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“The flood forecasting and warning system is equipped with automatic monitoring stations that observe every hour, in real time, the intensity of rainfall and the level of the Agno River and its tributaries, including Sinocalan River,” said Nathaniel Servando, acting administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. The observed rainfall and river heights would then be transmitted by radio to the monitoring centers concerned.

“In the event of an impending weather disturbance such as a tropical cyclone, the observed data together with the forecast rainfall from DOST-Pagasa are analyzed to come up with forecast flow or water level in the Agno River which serve as basis for the issuance of flood warnings,” Servando said.

President Aquino renewed his commitment to the improvement of Pagasa's weather forecasting system and thanked Japan for its assistance to the Philippines.

“With the help of the Department of Science and Technology, we were able to hasten the implementation of our initiatives and objectives (related to the safety and welfare of our citizens),” the President said.

“The DoST is ensuring that the improvements in the facilities of Pagasa would be continuous,” he added.

Mr. Aquino pointed out that the country now has more and better automatic weather stations, rain gauges, Doppler radars, flood monitoring and forecasting systems.

“We have phased out antiquated equipment. The DoST is also developing sensors against landslides, tsunami and red tide,” Mr. Aquino said.

“The good thing here is that these will be made and designed here in our country. Through this process, we will be able to save and allocate more funds to other projects,” he added.

Among those present at the inauguration was Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura.

“Let me take this opportunity to thank the Japanese Government for their enduring partnership with our country. The completion of this (flood forecasting and warning system) is timely as we celebrate 55 years of cooperation with your country and the 43rd Anniversary of Japan’s technical assistance for Pagasa,” the President said.

“More than a neighbor, you are a brother to the Filipinos. This is why we did not hesitate to lend a hand to your people these past months when you have faced many challenges brought about by the earthquake and the tsunami. We share our sympathies with your people,” he added.

“It is doubly gratifying for us that you have found the time and effort to support this project. These gestures show that humanity and compassion extend farther than geographic and cultural borders. I thank you in behalf of every Filipino,” Mr. Aquino said.

Katsura thanked the Philippine government for its share in helping Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

“Even under the difficult circumstances where Japan is placed right now, our commitment to extend assistance to the Philippines remains unchanged and we intend to continue to help improve the living environment of the Filipino as much as possible,” Katsura said.

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