Opening Statement of Sen. Loren Legarda Chair, Senate Committee on Climate Change

March 22, 2011

The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan has reminded the world to prepare for the worst, biggest and deadliest disasters. What happened in Japan can happen too in our country — with a far worse scenario if we are not prepared. It is certain that a strong earthquake may occur — a fact as real as the presence of a major earthquake fault in Metro Manila. The only question that remains is — When will it strike and how prepared are we to respond and cope?
But not all structures collapse in a strong earthquake, only the poorly built ones. We can save lives if we ensure that our home and offices, our schools and hospitals, and our malls and public buildings could withstand strong earthquakes. This is possible if we invest in proper and safe construction.
We also recognize that good urban governance is key to earthquake safety. Local governments must relentlessly assess and rectify the vulnerability of public structures in their respective areas. Administrators of office building and malls must also ensure earthquake safety in their premises and have contingency plans well in place and tested for preventing panic and stampede and handling the injured in the event of an earthquake.
Altogether, the public and private sectors must ensure public safety during earthquakes. We have invited the construction engineers of various commercial and residential building developers, engineers of our railways, ports and airport, dam operators, our Leagues of Barangays, Municipalities and Cities, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the Bureau of Fire Protection, DOST, PHIVOLCS, DPWH and the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers to examine the disaster resilience of several critical infrastructure that will ultimately save lives.
The objectives of this hearing are to:
• Assess the physical durability of structures and contingency plans of institutions during earthquakes, primarily in the heavily-populated cities;
• Identify national, regional and local early warning systems for earthquakes and tsunamis; and
• Discuss measures to raise the awareness of people against disaster risks.