Legarda Reiterates Need to Ensure Integrity of Structures to Withstand Earthquakes

October 18, 2013

In light of the recent magnitude 7.2 earthquake in the Visayas area, Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated her call for the immediate evaluation of the structural integrity of critical structures in the country.


According to a report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the earthquake that was greatly felt in Bohol and Cebu has caused the death of at least 156 people, affected more than three million citizens, and damaged structures including 2,000 houses, 20 bridges, four roads, and several heritage churches, hospitals, public buildings and private establishments.


“We cannot predict when an earthquake will occur, therefore, we must always be prepared. The best protection against earthquakes is sound engineering practice. With this earthquake that damaged many structures particularly in Bohol and Cebu, it is a must that we immediately revisit our construction standards, codes and practices.  We must examine them now and correct any deficiencies,” said Legarda, the UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.


The Senator said that the evaluation and retrofitting of infrastructure in the country, especially hospitals, schools and bridges, must be done regularly to ensure that they can withstand strong earthquakes.


“We must ensure the safety of our schools and hospitals. We were fortunate enough that the earthquake happened on a holiday, otherwise, many children would have been in their schools. Meanwhile, there were hospitals that suffered major damage due to the temblor,” Legarda said.


She noted that a guidebook on the promotion of disaster mitigation, which was published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), revealed that the cost of disaster-proofing a hospital or health facility by incorporating comprehensive disaster protection from earthquake and extreme climatic events into designs from the beginning will only add 4% to the cost of construction.


“This cost is nothing compared to the risk of destruction and death of patients and staff during a disaster, and the equally high health, economic and development impacts in the aftermath,” Legarda explained.


“School and hospital authorities must act now. They must consult structural engineers and assess the vulnerability of school and hospital structures to strong earthquakes, and institute immediate measures to strengthen parts found weak and likely to collapse. We should likewise ensure that our homes and offices, shopping malls and public buildings, and heritage sites are able to withstand strong earthquakes. We must ensure proper and safe construction. This lesson we must accept: Prevention is cost-effective,” she concluded.