By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net In her recent State of the Nation Address, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo guaranteed that her government will be focusing on environment protection and water conservation, as she promised to allocate at least P3.5 billion for various projects next year. She said P2 billion will be allocated to forest protection and reforestation projects in an effort to reduce effects of typhoons brought about by global climate change. Arroyo said she will also allocate another P1.5 billion for water conservation projects for 2009. This amount, she added, is three times the amount that was allocated for water-related projects in 2008. Arroyo said her administration had been implementing and enforcing several environment laws, such as the Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Water Act and the Biofuels Act. To reduce waste disposal problems, Arroyo said that 21 sanitary waste plants have been opened with another 18 more to be activated next year. She cited the “Zero-Basura Olympics,” which aims to encourage the public to be part of government’s waste problems reduction by implementing recycling programs.
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By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE PHILIPPINE Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has refurbished its upper air station in Legazpi City that will cover the Bicol region. The refurbishment is part of PAGASA's efforts to complement the three other upper air stations in Laoag, Tanay and Cebu. Upper air stations are responsible for monitoring and forecasting in real time the movement of thunderstorms, rainfall, flashfloods and ash fall in specific regions. These facilities send weather balloons with attached wind speed and temperature measuring equipment. The Legazpi upper air station was damaged during typhoon "Reming" in 2006. While the station did operate afterwards, some of its equipment could not be fully utilized. In a press conference, Science Secretary Estrella Alabastro said the cost of rebuilding and upgrading the equipment of the Legazpi station would amount to P18 million, at least P11 million of which will be used just for the weather balloons. In a day, an upper air station sends out at least two disposable weather balloons, costing between P26,000 to P30,000. The number of daily balloon releases could be as high as three during inclement weather. Science Undersecretary Graciano Yumul noted that the upper air stations, particularly in the Bicol region, will be complemented by additional seaborne meteorological buoys and wind sheer equipment. He also noted that PAGASA will be putting up several Doppler radars, which are more accurate than regular radars in monitoring the specific movement of storms affecting the country. Alabastro said that part of their upgrading plans for PAGASA is adding more weather forecast professionals in the Philippines, deployed in different regions in the country, particularly those that are frequented by storms.