Regional Director Blandino M. Maceda visited Catanduanes and attended the 02 May 2012 inauguration of the Doppler Radar Facility in Brgy. Buenavista, Municipality of Bato and the ceremonial switching-on of the Sulong and Hitoma I Mini-Hydro Power Plants led by His Excellency President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III. With the President were Secretary Jose Rene Almendras of the Department of Energy, Secretary Mario Montejo of DOST, NDRRMC Chief Benito Ramos and PAGASA Specialist Nathaniel Servando. He was assisted by Consul General and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan to the Philippines Motohiko Kato, Governors Joseph C. Cua of Catanduanes & Joey Salceda of Albay, Elizaldy Co of Sunwest Corporation and Congressman Cesar V. Sarmiento of the Lone District of Catanduanes. Also present during the activity were the eleven (11) municipal mayors in the province of Catanduanes, other provincial and municipal officials, members of media and local folks.
The Doppler radar was brought to the country by the Japanese government through its grants-in-aid program and is one of the three state-of-the-art radar facility being built in the Philippines that uses the solid-state technology developed by Japanese engineers. The new facility is on top of a hill, built through a P1.2-B grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The 44-meter-tall radar tower built on top of a mountain in Barangay Buenavista amounting P560 million is expected to provide accurate weather and rainfall forecasting for the entire Bicol region and portions in E. Visayas.
In his speech, President Aquino expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government for its invaluable support to the country’s efforts in nation building specifically in disaster risk reduction, preparedness and mitigation measures now made possible with the operationalization of the Doppler Radar .
"Our people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake here, and it is the government’s responsibility to do everything in its power to be ready for these natural disasters," Aquino told the crowd assembled at the inauguration of the new facility.
"We must continue focusing more of our resources into creating a system that will better warn us, and our people, about possible typhoons. Today, this is exactly what is happening in Catanduanes," he added.
The Solong and Hitoma 1 mini-hydro power plants are the first ever to be developed by Sunwest Water and Electricity Inc. (SUWECO) - a private entity under the special power utilities groups (SPUG) of the National Power Corporation.
“While this Doppler radar enhances our ability to deal with nature’s fury, we are also here to take advantage of nature’s bounty. By flicking on the Solong and Hitoma 1 mini-hydropower plants, we are harnessing the power of nature,” Aquino noted.
The event was also an opportunity for RD Blandino M. Maceda and PD Arnaldo E. Escober Jr to discuss some issues concerning governance with local officials attending the ceremony. – (LGOOV William T. Aldea, DILG-Catanduanes Information Officer)