Defense, disaster authorities quizzed on preparedness to face ‘Big One’

October 3, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Loren Legarda quizzed the Department of National Defense (DND) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Friday on their preparedness for a projected 7.2 magnitude earthquake that could happen in Metro Manila “anytime.”
“It is very important that the DND has been preparing for the ‘Big One’, but it is equally important that our citizens are prepared as well so that we can effectively minimize casualties and damages,” Legarda said during a Senate hearing on the DND budget.
“The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the NDRRMC could make it part of their mandate as well to actually engage people in preparedness for the Big Quake, which could happen anytime,” she said.
The 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) warned of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila that may destroy 40 percent of residential buildings, damage 35 percent of all public buildings, cause 34,000 deaths, injure 114,000 individuals, and the ensuing fires may also result in 18,000 additional fatalities.
NDRRMC Executive Director Alexander Pama said during the hearing that they have already convened several meetings to discuss all possible scenarios of a 7.2 quake in the heart of Metro Manila.
“Simulation exercises have been conducted. This is a work in progress,” Pama said.
Legarda urged the importance of preparation across all sectors, not just in the government, to minimize casualties and damages.
“We can prevent this scenario from happening, not only in Metro Manila but in all parts of the country, if all of us, the national government, local government units, private sector and citizens, are prepared,” Legarda said.
“We will never get tired of regularly reminding everyone about disaster prevention and preparedness because as a nation vulnerable to earthquakes, typhoons and other natural hazards, preparedness is our greatest defense,” she said.
Following the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol last year, Legarda filed a Senate Resolution directing the government to conduct an earthquake risk audit over all government infrastructure projects and buildings to ensure that all public infrastructure can withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake, as mandated by law.
“Evaluation and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure is crucial in ensuring that buildings, bridges and other similar structures can withstand strong quakes; while the conduct of earthquake drills will enable our citizens to respond quickly and this will equip our people with knowledge of what to do before, during and after such disasters,” Legarda said.

Source: Inquirer