WORST CASE SCENARIO | DND preparing for Intensity 9 quake in Metro Manila

October 3, 2014

MANILA – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Pio Catapang said Friday the Department of National Defense officials are now preparing for the worst-case scenario of an intensity 9 earthquake that could hit Metro Manila.

In an interview after defending the AFP’s 2015 budget, Catapang said they are now in the process of identifying places that could serve as evacuation centers, temporary shelters and offices for government agencies and other national security agencies.

They continue to conduct as well safety drills, and readying and educating troops on disaster response, Catapang added.

Preparing for a huge earthquake with a greater magnitude is necessary, he explained given since the latest projections of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).

“Intensity 8 and Magnitude 7.2 are still the readings… this one is a latest version because that figure is still based on a 2004 (study) and the latest study is (done in) 2013,” Catapang told reporters after the Senate Finance Committee budget hearing.

“We want to look into it because we are also preparing for an earthquake in Metro Manila. Sana hindi mangyari (I hope it doesn’t happen) but if there is an earthquake, we have to be prepared for it,” he added..

Pama revisits JICA study

Defense Undersecretary Alexander Pama of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) said preparations of the DND are based on the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2004.

Per that study, 40 percent of residential buildings and 35 percent of all public buildings in Metro Manila could be destroyed or damaged should a 7.2-magnitude earthquake occur in the metropolis.

At least 30,000 people could be killed if a strong earthquake—with intensity 7.2 to 9–hits the National Capital Region.

“Burying the dead will be a problem,” he told Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate sub-committee on finance which heard the DND’s proposed P140-billion budget for 2015.

“We want the cooperation of [all] Metro Manilans. We are preparing for the exodus. We are focusing on possible scenarios. This is a work in progress,” Pama said.

Legarda commended the DND for preparing “for the Big One,” but stressed the need for the public to be knowledgeable about disaster response to effectively minimize casualties.

“It is equally important that our citizens are prepared as well so that we can effectively minimize casualties and damage,” Legarda said.

“The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) could make it part of their mandate as well to actually engage people in preparedness for the Big Quake, which could happen anytime,” she explained.

“We can prevent this scenario from happening, not only in Metro Manila but in all parts of the country, if all of us, the national government, local government units, private sector and citizens, are prepared. We will never get tired of regularly reminding everyone about disaster prevention and preparedness because as a nation vulnerable to earthquakes, typhoons and other natural hazards, preparedness is our greatest defense,” Legarda said.

Loren’s priority: an earthquake risk audit

Legarda said it is imperative that the government starts conducting an “earthquake risk audit” on all government buildings in preparation for a huge quake.

Following the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol last year, Legarda filed a Senate Resolution directing the government to conduct an earthquake risk audit over all government infrastructure projects and buildings to ensure that all public infrastructure can withstand magnitude 8 earthquakes, as mandated by law.

“Evaluation and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure is crucial in ensuring that buildings, bridges and other similar structures can withstand strong quakes; while the conduct of earthquake drills will enable our citizens to respond quickly and this will equip our people with knowledge of what to do before, during and after such disasters,” she said.

She said that among the priority steps that must be undertaken for earthquake preparedness include the establishment of an early warning system for earthquake and tsunami; determining open spaces for safe refuge; and crafting evacuation plans that would help citizens find out the fastest and safest way to reach open spaces and other safe areas.

Source: Interaksyon