AGHAM-Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham atTeknolohiya para sa Sambayanan
(Advocates of Science and Technology for the People)
PRESS STATEMENTAugust 7, 2010
Politicization of PAGASA will not solve its problems
The removal of Dr. Prisco Nilo as director of the PAGASA due to “differences” with his“immediate superior” shows that the current government would rather fire the messsenger thanupgrade the bureau's capacity to prepare for typhoons and disasters.If government continues to blame the scientists instead of providing funds to upgrade their measurements, the brain drain that has gone on for so long will be difficult to reverse.Patriotic scientists who have opted to stay on despite low wages, general lack of research anddevelopment funds and local opportunities will be driven off instead of being useful to nationaldevelopment. Nilo becomes President Benigno Aquino 3rd's scapegoat for the National Disaster CoordinatingCouncil (NDCC) and his government's being unable to respond correctly to the recent typhoon.Dr. Nilo's removal was some three weeks after Aquino publicly scolded the weather bureau for failing to predict that typhoon Basyang would pass over Metro Manila. Saying that Nilo "never really bothered to explain" why Typhoon Basyang moved in a different direction shows how the president and the NDCC understands typhoon preparedness.There are two sides to this coin. The first requires us to understand the nature of typhoons.Typhoons are really large masses of air that are spinning and moving over land and sea. Much like aspinning top will be affected by the surface it is moving on, typhoons can change course dependingon the local conditions of its landfall and other nearby weather systems. The predicted course given by PAGASA is obtained from an initial prediction from mathematical models which is then updatedto take into account possible changes. The bulletins are then corrected and reissued every six hours.The predicted course is thus useful within the accuracy and precision that their models and updatescan give.One should only expect accuracy within the capability of the measuring device. To require morefrom PAGASA, the president should have asked what equipment and human resources is neededinstead of putting blame on its department head.In preparing for a typhoon, especially one that is covering a large area and strong winds, it istherefore not just a matter of alerting one region but ramping up the disaster readiness for theadjoining regions and cities as well. If PAGASA has pointed out that Central Luzon will be alongthe main path of the typhoon earlier in the day, the NDCC could have been prudent enough to alertMetro Manila and adjoining areas as well.
ITAGUYOD ANG AGHAM AT TEKNOLOHIYA PARA SA SAMBAYANAN!
P.O.Box 268 Araneta Center Cubao 1135 Quezon City PhilippinesTelephone: +63 2 4343173