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School Children Most Vulnerable and At Risk of During Earthquake Disasters

July 13, 2010

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA TODAY POINTED OUT A STUDY BY THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, WHICH REVEALED THAT THE PHILIPPINES HAS THE BIGGEST NUMBER OF SCHOOL CHILDREN AT THE RISK OF EARTHQUAKES, WITH AN ESTIMATED 15.6 MILLION SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN IN EARTHQUAKE ZONES COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE WORLD.
In response to this alarming fact, Senator Legarda immediately filed a resolution urging the following departments of government to assume respective responsibilities:
1. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to immediately conduct a nation-wide structural evaluation of all schools; enhance the structural integrity of public schools and help private run schools improve on their own structural integrity;
2. The Department of Education (DepED) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to ensure that schools are structurally resilient to earthquakes;
3. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) to identify the earthquake hazard areas all over the country.
“The cost of disaster-proofing a school is only four percent (4%) compared to the total cost of school construction – this is insignificant compared to the risk of destruction and death of school children effected by a seismological disaster, ” Legarda emphasized.
Legarda cited that the Metro-Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2004 showed that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake could damage 38% of residential buildings between 10-30 stories high, 14% of buildings between 30 to 60 stories high, and 35% of ALL public buildings. Such an earthquake could cause some 33,500 deaths, an additional 18,000 deaths from fire and 114.000 injuries.
“Different Asian countries have suffered earthquakes, which has brought about catastrophic consequences. For example, in 2000, the Pakistan earthquake caused the death of 17,000 school children due to the collapse of more than 7,000 schools. In the recent Haiti quake, a school in Petionville collapsed during classes, trapping 500 students. In China, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Sichuan in 2008 killed 15,000 school children and teachers and destroyed 7,000 classrooms. In our country, the 1990 Luzon earthquake caused the collapse of the six-story Christian College building in Cabanatuan City resulting to the deaths of 154 school children.”
“The Philippines was identified by a study of the World Bank and Columbia University as being one of the riskiest countries in the world which is prone to major natural hazards – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, drought and cyclones. According to the Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division of PHIVOLCS, 21 earthquakes having a magnitude of 5 and above have been recorded in a span of 6 months (January – July) in this year alone. These numbers are very alarming; we must arm ourselves against this potential disaster instead of merely reacting when the disaster has already struck and caused immeasurable damage to our people, infrastructure and economy,” reminded the Senator.
“Government departments, agencies and other instrumentalities must therefore synchronize their efforts and allocate resources into disaster risk reduction strategies and courses of action,” Legarda concluded.