House files bill to modernize PHIVOLCS

With the aim to enhance the capabilities of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS), the House of Representatives filed PHIVOLCS Modernization Act (House Bill No. 6921).

In a media advisory, the DOST said that “there is a need to augment and enhance the monitoring and warning capabilities of PHIVOLCS.”

Image from PHIVOLCS

Filed by Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay Second District, the PHIVOLCS Modernization Act aims to enable the agency to better provide timely and quality information and services for warning, disaster preparedness, and mitigation of events arising from volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other related geotectonic phenomena.

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“There is a need to increase the density of the Institute’s seismic stations to better understand future earthquake occurrences,” said Dr. Teresito Bacolcol, the newly appointed director of DOST-PHIVOLCS.

If passed into law, the institute will have more volcano and seismic monitoring stations equipped with state-of-art systems and facilities to ensure early warning of volcanic activity and to better understand future earthquake occurrences. This also includes an enhanced technology-based data center consistent with international standards and additional competent personnel to foster a more responsive information dissemination collaboration with the Local Government Units (LGUs) to help in the disaster planning, preparation, and disaster mitigation in the communities. 

Active volcanoes

The country has 24 active volcanoes and 27 potentially-active volcanoes. Of the 24 active volcanoes, only 10 are currently being monitored, and only two of these 10 are equipped with all the required station types.

According to Dr. Bacolcol, the growth of basic research and the number of employees conducting hazard mapping has been hampered by increasing demand for hazard and risk information from various private companies and government agencies. 

The bill also hopes to provide better incentives for institute personnel and additional plantilla positions to expand its pool of experts. This includes the creation of a new salary scale, a retention incentive, and an enhanced human resource development program.