Disaster Source: File photo from FB

Disaster-related info in Tagalog, dialects pressed

February 24, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 144 views

BICOL Saro Partylist Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan has proposed a simple, yet crucial step in ensuring preparedness and prompt action during emergencies: Disseminating information in easy-to-understand formats, and translating their contents to Filipino and regional languages appropriate to the affected communities.

Yamsuan has filed House Bill (HB) No. 9947 to make this a requirement for all national and local government offices tasked to communicate advisories, announcements and other forms of information on disasters and emergencies.

“Fast and accurate information is the most valuable tool during times of emergencies. But we need to make sure that information is properly communicated and understood well,” Yamsuan said.

“The way to do this is communicate in simple, clear language by translating advisories and announcements often broadcast or written in English and Filipino to Bicolano, and other appropriate regional languages. When information is available and conveyed in a language that people comprehend, they can respond more quickly, potentially saving lives and properties, and mitigating overall damage,” he added.

Yamsuan filed the bill in time for the commemoration of International Mother Language Day on February 21. It is observed every year to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity.

Under HB 9947, translating information into regional languages or dialects should consider the geographical location of the affected communities and the intended recipients.

“As much as practicable, such disaster-related information shall be issued and disseminated using plain language and devoid of scientific jargon or technical terminologies,” and should be “disseminated as widely as possible through all available media,” the bill also states.

The Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) are tasked to provide the necessary technical assistance and expertise to national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) in implementing the measure.

Yamsuan said that with over 175 living languages, the Philippines faces a peculiar challenge when it comes to disseminating critical information during emergencies and disasters.

He cited the disaster-prone region of Bicol as a prime example. Bicol, which is visited by strong typhoons each year and remains vulnerable to catastrophic volcanic activities, is home to different languages and dialects.

Under the bill, emergency-related information that shall be translated to Filipino and other regional languages and dialects include those from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA); Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs); National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and its counterparts and networks at the LGU level.

Relevant information on emergencies and disasters from the Department of Health (DOH); Department of Agriculture (DA); Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP); Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); Philippine National Police (PNP); and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are also covered by the measure.

These include advisories on typhoons and floods, storm surges; volcanic activities; earthquakes and tsunamis; landslides; disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies; human security concerns; and emergency aid and social protection measures.