Joaquin Phillipe Ortega, the youth leader and convenor of Palaweño Patriots for Peace and Progress (P4), has raised concerns about the lack of air raid sirens in Palawan.

This worry arose from a map uploaded by a Reddit user, which indicates the locations of air raid sirens around the Philippines.

This comes in the wake of China’s recent aggression, in which the Chinese Coast Guard “hijacked” the Philippines’ rotation and resupply (RoRe) mission, causing damage and severely injuring a member of the Naval Special Operations Group, who lost his right thumb at a military outpost in Ayungin Shoal on June 17.

An air raid siren is a high-decibel warning apparatus employed to notify the general population in the event of crises, such as air raids or other approaching perils.

They emit a unique auditory pattern that indicates the necessity for prompt action, such as finding refuge or seeking protection.

Ortega emphasized Palawan’s strategic location at the forefront of potential threats, as well as the need for air raid sirens to protect the province’s population centers.

“We’re at the forefront yet we don’t seem to have any. Maybe Wescom has one. We need these to cover our population centers, I think every town should have one,” he stated in a Facebook post.

According to a Reddit post by user r/AirRaidSirens, the Philippines has 100 community sirens, one industrial/refinery siren, and three military sirens. However, the exact location of these sirens remains unknown.

CHECK HERE: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/viewer?mid=1oPG_SrbxnQWao21SFDawBaPnPulwCFFO&ll=8.287696700000001%2C124.2628714&z=8

Palawan News accessed another user-generated map from the same user on an online forum website.

The Google Map, updated through submissions via Google Forms, indicates a possibility of an air raid siren at the Municipal Hall complex of Narra, Palawan, though they were unable to identify and classify the instrument.

Ortega questioned the responsible authority for installing these sirens, suggesting it could be the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO), noting the limitations of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC) mobile alarms, which may be ineffective if telecommunications are compromised.

“Whose responsibility should it be? DRRMO? I don’t think NDRRMC alarms on our phones will work after telecommunications are shut down or hit. And so far, there are no protocol or instructions on what to do ‘just in case’,” he said.

Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) head Jerry Alili, in a phone interview that although there are no air raid sirens, some municipalities have early warning systems (EWSs), which were used during the COVID-19 pandemic to alert the implementation of community quarantines and curfews.

Quezon, Roxas, El Nido, Coron, Bataraza, Narra, Rizal, Busuanga, and Linapacan already have EWSs, according to him.

They also plan to install them in other municipalities that currently do not have early warning devices. Each costs around ₱500,000.

“Part yan ng EWS namin sa mga municipalities, but not necessarily ang purpose ay for air raids. Pero yon ang nature niya, ang tawag namin dyan all hazard EWS,” he said.

Alili said they’re already seen the need for EWS, especially after Typhoon Odette. It was a lesson they learned from the natural calamity after it hit several towns in Palawan in December 2021.

He said their strategy is to cover remote island communities and municipalities within the year under their procurement plant, along with establishing early warning protocols.

“One of the lessons learned ito na natutunan namin after ng Typhoon Odette. Nakita na namin na dapat ang EWS covered lahat, lalo na yong hard to reach areas,” he said.

Alili encouraged Barangay DRRMOs to procure their own small EWS, which only costs around ₱50,000. These alert systems could help them when there are emergencies that residents need to know to protect themselves.

Ortega also expressed frustration over the lack of a clear protocol or public instructions in case of an emergency, and the general complacency towards preparedness.

“It seems people are relaxed and complacent, viewing preparedness as ‘praning’ and laughing it off. I don’t understand why the clear and present danger at our doorstep isn’t concerning to them. I don’t want to cause panic; I just want to see us prepared,” he remarked.

Board Member Rafael Ortega Jr. raised similar concerns during a Sangguniang Panlalawigan session earlier this year, questioning the readiness of the PDRRMO and other relevant agencies.

He emphasized the necessity for concrete contingency plans and effective coordination among local government units (LGUs), the PDRRMO, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Ortega Jr. further stressed the importance of preparedness training, particularly for vulnerable groups like students, to ensure they know how to respond in emergencies without causing panic or confusion.

“But it’s not only the education sector; other parts of the community should also be trained. Everybody must have the proper knowledge because we don’t know when this will happen,” he said.

“Ayaw natin ng gulo at hindi natin sinasabing magkakagulo. Subalit minamabuti natin na habang kontrolado ng AFP ang sitwasyon na bumabalot sa nasabing lugar, mainam na ating mapagplanuhan at mapag-usapan ng maayos kung ano ang dapat gawin. Salamat kung hindi mangyayari ang aking iniisp. Pero sa pinakamasamang pangyayari, ano ang gagawin ng provincial government?” he added.