Firms vow climate-resilient efforts

Business groups representing urban planning, telecommunications and power and water utility companies have agreed to take an active role in pushing for climate-resilient projects.

In the forum “Liveable Cities Labs, Road to Resilience: Preparing our Communities for Natural Disaster” on Thursday, companies such as Globe Telecoms, AboitizPower Distribution Group and Maynilad Water Services Inc., and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) took up the challenge to support key climate-resilient initiatives.

Veronica Gabaldon, PDRF executive director, said it is important that everybody takes anticipatory actions, such as prepositioning of emergency assets like generator sets, emergency communications and water purifying stations immediately after calamities.

“Let’s look into resilient critical infrastructure so that no evacuation centers will not be damaged and logistics will be available,” Gabaldon said.

Typhoon “Odette” entered the Philippine area of responsibility on Dec. 14, 2021 and left a trail of destruction in its wake, bringing torrential rains, violent winds, landslides and storm surges.


Resiliency measures

Anton Mari Perdices, chief operating officer of the AboitizPower Distribution Group, expressed favor in the underground cabling of their power distribution lines.

He said the Aboitiz Power subsidiary, the Visayan Electric Co. Inc., already started the underground cabling system in Cebu starting with the road where Sinulog route is conducted every year.

“In Cebu, we started in Sinulog route. We’re focusing on that because we noticed that every time the Sinulog would happen there will be balloons and all kinds of stuff that will go our wires and there will be automatic brownouts, so an executive order was made by the mayor and we have been doing it a kilometer a year,” Percides said.

“To get the whole system underground, as I mentioned, 8,990 kilometers (of power cables) is going to take a long time and a lot of money. So there has to be some sort of government subsidy,” he added.

It doesn’t have to be everything underground, he said, as they realized that the main culprits of poles toppling down were the trees. “We had to really step the game in the tree trimming and we do that even without typhoons,” Percides said.

“However, we have such a vast network and it takes time. If we could find a way to strategically get them underground, it will definitely help,” he said.

Rofil Sheldon Magto, communications manager of Globe Telecoms, also supported the underground cabling of their lines.

“There’s already an ongoing discussion on that one to move aerial cables underground but that requires intensive investments. It’s also very beneficial if we can work together with other utility companies as well as local and national government agencies,” he said.


Communication lines

Magto also suggested that a communication device, such as satellite phones or very high frequency (VHF) radios, be prepositioned before typhoons strike.

He said communication was vital during calamities and suggested that local government units (LGUs) must have a prepositioned satellite phone, so they have backup connectivity and back up communication devices in times of calamities.

“I still recommend that if you’re really prioritizing resiliency anticipating typhoons and other untoward incidents over the next few years, I would still suggest each government units or each organization still have their own backup communications devices, regardless if these are satellite phones or VHF radios,” he said.

Architect and environmental planner Nathaniel Von Einsiedel also expressed support for the underground cabling system.

This, he said, will require a synchronization of all timetables and schedules of government projects by the Department of Public Works and HighwaysDepartment of Transportation and the National Housing Authority and LGUs.

Einsiedel said they attempted several years ago in Metro Manila to dig utility cable lines, in tandem with various government agencies. The problem at that time was that agencies had different budget cycles and the timing of the releases of their funds was not synchronized.


Article by Ben Gines Jr. | The Manila Times