THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said on Thursday that it recently signed an agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to cooperate in road disaster prevention and other measures to increase safety on the Philippines’ mountain roads.

The goal is to “enhance capability on implementation of permanent countermeasure works for slope disaster, emergency response, hazard map development, and road disaster information management based on a road disaster information system,” the DPWH said in a statement.

“Appropriate road disaster countermeasures against landslides, debris flow, and rock collapse are necessary due to yearly occurrence of strong typhoons and earthquakes, which render many roads impassable,” it added.

Public Works Secretary Roger G. Mercado and JICA Philippines Office Chief Representative Takema Sakamoto signed on May 18 the “record of discussions” to formally start a technical cooperation program on road disaster prevention and other countermeasures on mountain roads.

“The signed record of discussions establishes a mutual agreement for implementation of detailed plan for the project,” the department said.

Mr. Mercado noted that with the willingness of Japanese experts to share their technology on landslides and other forms of road disaster mitigation, the department’s engineers will be able to apply the “best methodology” available to improve safety.

The department said the technical cooperation with JICA will run for three and a half years, with pilot sites in the Cordillera Administrative Region and Regions 7 and 11.  — Arjay L. Balinbin