Bills on quake readiness pushed
TWO Liberal Party senators filed a proposed measure to ensure that the government is ready in the event of an earthquake.
Senator Leila M. de Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 322 directing the appropriate Senate committees to assess the country’s earthquake preparedness following an increasing frequency of earthquakes that recently hit some parts of the country.
In Senate Resolution No. 343, Senator Bam Aquino likewise underscored the importance of proper use and dissemination of information to enhance capacity of government agencies, local government units and communities to mitigate, respond and recover from the damaging effects of earthquakes.
De Lima sought for an immediate Senate investigation into the readiness of the national and local governments to mitigate the impact of the possible occurrence of the “Big One,” a magnitude 7.2 earthquake feared to hit Metro Manila.
“There is a need for a holistic assessment and strengthening of the respective capacities of national government agencies, local government units and other stakeholders to mitigate, respond and recover from a potential massive earthquake,” she said.
Based on the 2016 World Risk Index, the Philippines, which is situated along the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” the most active earthquake belt in the world, is considered as the “third most vulnerable country with the highest disaster risk.”
De Lima cited a Japanese study which claims that Metro Manila is due for the “Big One” earthquake that may destroy an approximate 40 percent of all buildings in the capital, claim about 34,000 lives and injure up to 100,000 others.
She also cited another Swiss study which tagged Manila as the “riskiest city in the world” next to Tokyo, Japan, considering that the country’s capital is located near two major faultlines—the West Valley Fault and the Manila Trench.
Mindful of these two technical studies, the former justice secretary also called for an immediate review and possible revision of Republic Act No. 6541, also known as the National Building Code of the Philippines.
“The National Building Code should be revisited and amended to ensure that homeowners and building administrators will upgrade and retrofit their houses or buildings to comply with the minimum requirements provided by the Code,” she said.
De Lima pointed out that the Senate inquiry should look into how the present administration is implementing Republic Act No. 10121, also known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
Under Section 2 of the RA 10121, the State is mandated “to uphold people’s constitutional rights to life and property by addressing the root causes of vulnerabilities to disasters, strengthening the country’s institutional capacity for disaster risk reduction and management, and building the resilience of local communities to disasters.”
Aquino, meanwhile, wants to ensure if scientific data gathered by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology is effectively disseminated to allay fears and combat the prevalence of false information online and better prepare communities in the occurrence of destructive tremors.
“Scientific data gathered by Phivolcs is crucial in the mitigation, preparedness and response to the hazards and impacts of earthquakes,” Aquino said.
After a series of earthquakes rocked different parts of the country recently, false and misleading information have circulated online predicting the exact date and location of the “Big One,” sparking panic among the public.
“Other articles and posts circulated online tell of signs of impending disasters related to the stranding of animals in local shorelines. There have also been articles circulated that present contradictory safety tips in case of earthquakes and disasters,” Aquino added.
In April, 11 earthquakes of at least 5.0 magnitude rocked different parts of the country, including Batangas, Lanao del Sur and Davao.
The Phivolcs immediately installed earthquake monitoring equipment in Wao, Lanao del Norte. In February, the agency also put up monitoring equipment in Dinagat Island to enhance its observation capabilities on earth movement.
Currently, Phivolcs operates and maintains a network of 93 seismic stations spread across the Philippines. Data from the seismic stations are used to determine the location and characteristics of earthquakes.