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Planning is the key

April 10, 2017

AS if to jolt Filipinos to the very important matter of disaster preparedness and mitigation, two medium-size earthquakes with magnitudes 5.6 and 6.0 occurred in Luzon, specifically more pronounced in Batangas on Saturday, only four days after a 5.5 magnitude temblor hit the same province.

Hospitals, churches, homes, schools and commercial establishments in several towns and two cities in Batangas suffered considerable damage, particularly Tingloy and Mabini municipalities. Both quakes were felt in Metro Manila.

The actual occurrence of earthquakes, and in places close to home, reminds one and sundry that natural disasters are real, and they strike without warning, in places and at times unknown. As no human technology can predict earthquakes, the only way to cope is to possess a calm frame of mind, enough knowledge, training and skills on what to do, and the resolve to put them into action.

Environmentalist Sen. Loren Legarda can never overemphasize this common and practical warning, though given small thought by fatalistic Filipinos: “We never know when an earthquake will occur. But we should know what to do before, during and after the occurrence of such events. Regular safety drills should be done to familiarize citizens with safety and disaster preparedness measures.”

Legarda continues: “The key to effective disaster prevention is planning. It is important to know if our location is near an active fault and prone to liquefaction or landslide, which may cause damage to houses or buildings. We have to ensure that buildings are not standing on active faults. Evaluation and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure is crucial in ensuring that buildings, bridges, and similar structures can withstand strong quakes.”

The local government units and the barangays are most needed in short-notice rescue and relief operations, even before help from the national government or the Red Cross arrives. In the case of Metro Manila, where many buildings and houses stand to suffer damage or collapse when a really Big One occurs, it is important that the mayors and barangay chairmen, together with their City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management offices have identified safe, open spaces where residents, employees and students can converge away from harm’s way.

President Duterte, the mayors of Metro Manila, and environmental planners are well advised to revisit the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMIERS) which revealed that without the necessary interventions, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the National Capital Region could destroy 40 percent of residential buildings, damage 35 percent of all public buildings, kill at least 34,000 people and injure 114,000 more, and the ensuing fires will also result in some 18,000 additional fatalities.

Surveys and studies may be too cautious or too horrifying, but at least they serve the purpose of pointing at the problem and evoking awareness that otherwise would be sidelined by a government that is full of complacency.AS if to jolt Filipinos to the very important matter of disaster preparedness and mitigation, two medium-size earthquakes with magnitudes 5.6 and 6.0 occurred in Luzon, specifically more pronounced in Batangas on Saturday, only four days after a 5.5 magnitude temblor hit the same province.

Hospitals, churches, homes, schools and commercial establishments in several towns and two cities in Batangas suffered considerable damage, particularly Tingloy and Mabini municipalities. Both quakes were felt in Metro Manila.

The actual occurrence of earthquakes, and in places close to home, reminds one and sundry that natural disasters are real, and they strike without warning, in places and at times unknown. As no human technology can predict earthquakes, the only way to cope is to possess a calm frame of mind, enough knowledge, training and skills on what to do, and the resolve to put them into action.

Environmentalist Sen. Loren Legarda can never overemphasize this common and practical warning, though given small thought by fatalistic Filipinos: “We never know when an earthquake will occur. But we should know what to do before, during and after the occurrence of such events. Regular safety drills should be done to familiarize citizens with safety and disaster preparedness measures.”

Legarda continues: “The key to effective disaster prevention is planning. It is important to know if our location is near an active fault and prone to liquefaction or landslide, which may cause damage to houses or buildings. We have to ensure that buildings are not standing on active faults. Evaluation and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure is crucial in ensuring that buildings, bridges, and similar structures can withstand strong quakes.”

The local government units and the barangays are most needed in short-notice rescue and relief operations, even before help from the national government or the Red Cross arrives. In the case of Metro Manila, where many buildings and houses stand to suffer damage or collapse when a really Big One occurs, it is important that the mayors and barangay chairmen, together with their City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management offices have identified safe, open spaces where residents, employees and students can converge away from harm’s way.

President Duterte, the mayors of Metro Manila, and environmental planners are well advised to revisit the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMIERS) which revealed that without the necessary interventions, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the National Capital Region could destroy 40 percent of residential buildings, damage 35 percent of all public buildings, kill at least 34,000 people and injure 114,000 more, and the ensuing fires will also result in some 18,000 additional fatalities.

Surveys and studies may be too cautious or too horrifying, but at least they serve the purpose of pointing at the problem and evoking awareness that otherwise would be sidelined by a government that is full of complacency.

Source: Malaya