By Mario Ignacio, VERA Files
With citizens now turning to social media for information, the Marikina local government has taken to using Twitter and Facebook to post updates about the Marikina River's water level, the main concern of residents during the rainy season.
Marikina public information office (PIO) head Paul Edward P. Sison said information dissemination is quicker through social media.
The PIO’s 21,459 twitter followers receive updates as events happen, as do the 15,350 Facebook users who "like" its page.
Different news organizations regularly retweet and re-post the PIO’s updates, which also include information on the number of people in evacuation centers.
The Marikina PIO's social media accounts were set up last year, after Sison attended a seminar by the Association of Information Officers in Metro Manila. The group trained Metropolitan Manila Development Authority personnel on the use of social media for information dissemination. For Typhoon Maring, its 18 staff members worked in three shifts to continuously update the accounts.
The PIO’s information, in turn, comes from the city government’s different offices such as Rescue 161, River Park Development Office (RPDO), and the Marikina Settlement Office (MSO). Sison also said he regularly consults the Project NOAH website, using its tools to further understand the effects of rainfall.
James Paul Agulay, who has been with the PIO for eight years, said their experience from the disaster brought about by the southwest monsoon (habagat) last year helped them better manage their information dissemination during Typhoon Maring.
Aglipay added that residents rarely call the PIO office for information but contact it instead through social media. Most of the calls the PIO receives now are from reporters asking for statistics.
The Marikina PIO functions as a regular government office that acts as the city's media arm. It posts updates on the traffic situation, special activities and local government projects.
Marikina City has been placed under a state of calamity, with 3,997 families or 17,607 persons at various evacuation centers.
(VERA Files is put out by senior journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. VERA is Latin for true.)