Legarda on the Big One: Preparedness Will Lessen Casualties, Damages

October 3, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed that preparedness will save many lives and lessen damage to properties should the Big One, or the projected 7.2-magnitude earthquake, happens in Metro Manila.


Legarda renewed her call during the Senate hearing for the proposed 2015 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND).


In response, the DND said they have been preparing for the Big One, particularly through the identification of open spaces for evacuation, conduct of safety drills and readying troops to respond.


“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. The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (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 explained.


The Senator reminded that 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% of residential buildings, damage 35% of all public buildings, cause 34,000 deaths, injure 114,000 individuals, and the ensuing fires may also result in 18,000 additional fatalities.


“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. 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,” Legarda 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,” she said.


She added that among the priority steps that must be undertaken for earthquake preparedness include the establishment of an early warning system for earthquake and tsunami; determining open spaces for safe refuge; and crafting evacuation plans that would help citizens find out the fastest and safest way to reach open spaces and other safe areas.