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Editorial | Technology in times of uncertainty

Technology has made access to information hurtling on hyper drive. It is so easy to search and verify information on specific topics that confound us on a daily basis if one knows how to navigate the universe of knowledge in cyberspace.

For instance, since the huge quakes happened in alarming frequency last year, there were unfounded speculations that Mt. Apo was acting up. There were posts on social media that stoked these rumors and fanned people’s sense of doom without even verifying whether these were true. As veteran photojournalists would say: It’s not in the arrow, it’s in the Indian. This means that even with space age information technology, our knowledge on its proper use matters the most.

A quick search on the website of Phivolcs, the government agency that is the repository of knowledge on volcanoes, shows that eight of 24 active volcanoes in the Philippines are in Mindanao and Mt. Apo is not one of them. Mindanews reported that the eight volcanoes are: Bud Dajo in Sulu; Hibok-hibok in Camiguin; Leonard Kniaseff in Compostela Valley (formerly part of Davao del Norte); Makaturing in Lanao del Sur; Matutum in South Cotabato; Musuan (Calayo) in Bukidnon; Parker in South Cotabato; and Ragang in Lanao del Sur / Cotabato. More details on these volcanoes, including the last eruptions are easily available at the Phivolcs website.
Renato Solidum Jr., Science and Technology Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change and Phivolcs, said right after the 6.7 magnitude quake here on October 31, 2019, that there was no basis to rumors that the series of quakes were caused by volcanic activities. He also said there are no reports of any volcanic activity in Mount Apo.

In the light of the current Taal volcanic activity, some people still want a certain degree of assurance that Mt. Apo will remain inactive. By all means, we should be prepared for disasters. But disaster mitigation also requires all of us to nurture and preserve our shrinking natural resources, to check logging and mining activities, to ensure that our forests are still standing. Without this balance, we will be tossed like rags in the midst of nature’s fury and wrath.

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