AT LEAST five schools in Metro Manila and one in Bulacan sit near or on top of the West Valley Fault and must be dismantled or transferred, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Friday.
Agency director Renato Solidum Jr. said those schools were Bulacan’s Sitio Karahume Elementary School in San Jose del Monte, Marikina City’s Barangka Elementary School, Makati City’s Tibagan Elementary School, Taguig City’s Anne-Claire Montessori, and Muntinlupa City’s Alabang Elementary School and E. Pedro Diaz High School.
“They need to transfer the kids. It’s not that many,” Solidum said in a television interview.
“They need to discuss it with [the Department of Education] and school officials. Essentially, they are putting students at risk but to be fair, we don’t know when the fault will move.”
Officials say the school buildings at risk could have been built before reports broke out in the 1990s that the West Valley Fault was still active.
Solidum called on local officials to verify if other schools were also lying along possible fault lines.
He made his statement even as MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said Friday Metro Manila was not prepared in case a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck it.
“Our preparedness on a scale of one to 10 is below 5,” Tolentino said told an earthquake- preparedness forum.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Friday supported the MMDA’s call for drills to prepare Metro Manila for a powerful earthquake.
“Many of our countrymen and some sectors are not taking it seriously,” agency undersecretary Alexander Pama said, adding the government must have a realistic approach to protect public safety.
The MMDA is proposing two metro-wide earthquake drills to be made from 3 pm to 8 pm, when commercial centers and offices would be closed and power, communications and transportation systems would be shut down.
“They’re doing that in California,” Tolentino said.
“Once we experience the 7.2-magnitude we will be disrupted for about three weeks. If that happens, we will be prepared.”
Authorities say a 7.2-magnitude earthquake could kill more than 30,000 people.
The West Valley Fault line runs between two buildings of Sitio Karahume Elementary School just within the buffer zone.
“They are not directly on top but they are within the buffer zone. They may be affected by the ground rupture or very strong shaking,” Solidum said.
“The affected schools must make sure they do not use the rooms for classes or offices. We have advised them not to. They can use this for storage space or strengthen the demolished part of the building if it’s like a very long building. Demolish the part transected by the fault and reinforce the sides of the building that is away from the buffer zone or demolish the whole building totally.”
Phivolcs has launched a valley fault system atlas showing the 100-kilometer West Valley Fault running through 42 villages in Quezon City, Marikina City, Pasig City, Makati City, Taguig City, Muntinlupa City, and 30 villages in Bulacan, Laguna and Cavite.
Solidum said Metro Manila’s coastal areas and western sections could be more vulnerable to earthquake due to layer of sediment.