The Puerto Princesa City Radio Communications Office (PPCRCO) has urged barangays to install backup sources of power for their radio stations as one of their post-typhoon Odette agendas.
The department also told barangay stations to secure solar power kits, batteries, and inverters for their communication bases. Puerto Princesa currently has 25 radio communication stations in the rural barangays, but only 10 have solar power backups, according to data from the office.
Sonny Villamor, PPCRCO chief, also said barangay officials should regularly charge their two-way radios and batteries to avoid losing power sources for communication during calamities. He added that this is important because as what happened during typhoon Odette, cellular reception was lost and only barangay radio was the only available way of communication for rescue operations and relief efforts.
“Siguro, lesson learned na kahit walang bagyo, ‘yong mga radyo nila naka-ready. Hindi kapag may bagyo saka pa lang magcha-charge. Pag wala nang araw, madilim na, hindi ka makakapag-charge ng [solar],” Villamor said in an interview Wednesday.
“Dapat, every barangay, may solar na naka-ready. Kailangan nilang mag-provide ng mga solar nila, kasi nasa DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) ‘yan, nasa batas ‘yan. Simula noong nagkaroon ng Yolanda, ni-require silang lahat na magkaroon ng communication equipment,” he added.
Aside from the rural barangay stations, the urban barangay stations also do not currently have solar backup power because they have connected to the Palawan Electric Cooperative’s (PALECO) grid. Villamor added that they too were unable to communicate when cellular reception went down.
Villamor also added that despite the damage Odette did to their Base One tower, located in the City Hall complex, barangay officials were still able to communicate to the base thanks to numerous repeaters placed all over Puerto Princesa. However, it was the power outages and damaged solar kits that cut off communications in some areas.
“’Yon lang ang mga dito sa city area, naka-konek kasi sila sa PALECO kaya noong nag-down ang PALECO, wala na rin sila,” he said.
Base One’s 150-foot tower also suffered damage during the storm, but Villamor stated that they have already begun repairs and are now able to communicate with all of their bases in the north and south. He added as well that their office already informed city mayor Lucilo Bayron about the needed repairs.
Villamor further said that barangay officials must also construct their solar kits in a secure place to prevent them from getting damaged in the future by strong typhoons such as Odette, adding that barangay officials can course their requests for solar kits and batteries through legislation via the City Council.