Legarda renews call for monthly earthquake drill

July 30, 2015

FOLLOWING the Metro Manila-wide earthquake drill on Thursday, Senator Loren Legarda urged her colleagues to pass a measure seeking to require monthly emergency drills, particularly in education and health care institutions.

“The regular conduct of fire and earthquake drills would effectively instill disaster preparedness in our citizens. School and health facilities, aside from being shelter for the vulnerable – children, sick and elderly – are critical public infrastructures, especially in times of disaster when victims need emergency refuge, services and medical care,” said Legarda.

Under Senate Bill 357, schools and other educational establishments, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, orphanages and other buildings used for the care of or occupied by the sick, infirm, or disabled are mandated to conduct monthly emergency drills.

The bill also proposed the conduct of emergency drills in school buses and other vehicles for transporting school children at least twice every school year.

Legarda said the training should include practice and instruction, concerning the location, use and operation of emergency exits, fire escapes, doors and fire extinguishers and other facilities provided for such purpose in buildings, as well as the proper evacuations of buildings by persons in the event of fires, earthquakes and other hazardous phenomena.

Apart from conducting safety drills in schools and hospitals, the senator said the government and building owners are also required to ensure the structural integrity of the buildings.

Legarda said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and its regional and local offices shall keep a record of all fire and earthquake drills of the reports submitted by educational building, health care institution, administrators and school bus operators and drivers.

Building administrators who refuses or fails to perform monthly earthquake drill will be given a warning for the first offense, will have to pay a fine of P1,000 for the second offense and P5,000 for the third offense.

For subsequent offenses, offenders will be imprisoned for one month and will be imposed a fine of P10,000.

According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the West Valley Fault, which traverses Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal and Cavite, may generate up to 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

A study released in 2013 said a 7.2-magnitude earthquake may result in 37,000 fatalities, 140,000 severe injuries, and an economic loss of P2.5 trillion with 11 million square meters of floor area severely damaged.