Glenn Banaguas, one of the country’s leading climate change scientists, said local government units should be in the forefront in ensuring that high-rise structures are safe and pose no threat to the population especially during natural calamities.
China, he said, implemented new rebar standard rules which also banned quenching and tempering of steel rebars. According to an article by SP Global, “The new rebar standard, which came into effect Nov. 1, 2018, is aimed at preventing water cooled bar disguised as hot rolled rebar from circulating in the market.”
The changes in the rebar regulations were triggered by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake which killed more than 69,000 people and injured 374,176. The earthquake also left about 11 million people homeless.
Banaguas said cities and municipalities have the power to approve or reject the construction of a high-rise structure in their respective jurisdictions if it does not adhere to the safety provisions specifically prescribed in the law.
“Before, infrastructures were built based on the old national building code. Now, there is a need to incorporate the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Reduction and Management strategies on the planning and decision-making,” said Banaguas who was conferred Outstanding Young Scientist of the Philippines by the National Academy of Science and Technology.
Banaguas noted what happened in Tacloban City after super typhoon Yolanda hit the city and the entire Eastern Visayas in 2013.
“Why were many infrastructures damaged? Why were a lot of people affected? So aside from identifying the most vulnerable areas and most at risk, it is also significant to check the quality of our buildings...Based on the National Climate Change Action Plan priority area, our infrastructures should be climate proof,” he said.
Banaguas said to avoid a repeat of the Yolanda disaster, high-rise structures should withstand typhoons with a strength of more than 300 kilometers per hour. To do this, LGUs should be more than strict in granting building permits. They should also be more cautious and ensure that only standard materials are used in the construction of high-rise structures, he said.
Banaguas said reports of the prevalence of substandard steel in the market was a major concern. “Generally, if there are some concerns on the methodology or process, it will be better to conduct more scientific tests and analyses. In experiments, if we want to prove the accuracy of the output, there is a need to validate them. For example, we can modify the methodology or we can introduce different parameters in the process. There is also a possibility to introduce new approach or innovative idea. Then look at the impact of the project. No matter how technical and innovative our research projects are, we want to make sure that these projects will create positive changes to the lives of the people,” he said.
Banaguas said to ensure the safety of existing quench-tempered steel in the market, there is always a way to do it. “It has to be tested more. It has to undergo a series of tests. It has to be based on science,” he said.
It was reported in some news outlets following a 6.1-magnitude earthquake that struck on April 22, 2019 that the building which collapsed in Pampanga—Chuzon Supermarket—had used quenched-tempered rebars.