‘Dagupan kids not prepared for killer quake’Philippine Daily Inquirer
DAGUPAN CITY—This city’s children may not at all be ready in case an earthquake as strong as the 7.7-magnitude quake that hit northern Luzon on July 16, 1990, strikes again, school officials said.
The city government and the Department of Education conduct earthquake preparedness drills every year in all schools in Dagupan but the seriousness of the activity seems to be lost on the children, they said.
“They do not take the drill seriously. Many of them thought it was a joke and some were laughing during the exercise,” said Erly Datario, principal of the Dagupan City National High School.
She said many of these students were too young to experience or remember the killer earthquake that devastated Dagupan and Baguio cities in 1990.
Dagupan was heavily devastated by the quake, with most roads destroyed, two main bridges breaking, buildings either collapsing or sinking by several meters because of liquefaction.
“We explain the concept of liquefaction to our students, but they think it is all a joke,” Datario said.
Mayor Benjamin Lim said: “We should show them what liquefaction is, that it’s not the city sinking but that there is a pressure underneath the ground. That it is a natural phenomenon when water could rise above ground. It is natural because the city is swampy and we are almost at level with the sea.”
He added: “They were not serious because they did not know the gravity of the earthquake and the harm it can do to them. They took their time in going out of the buildings.”
He said the next time the drill is done, the children should be briefed that the activity is no laughing matter. “In Japan, everyone is serious during earthquake drills. Nobody can be seen smiling,” he said.
He suggested the production of a documentary, with photographs taken during and after the July 1990 earthquake, to be shown to students.
“We must have people here to take care of first aid. No doctor can come here and you cannot bring the injured to the hospital so everybody must be treated here,” he said. “The students should be safe before they are sent home.”
In Baguio City, instead of staging a quake memorial, the city government held a disaster risk reduction forum where close to 100 Cordillera mayors revisited plans of synchronizing disaster prevention measures.
Interior Undersecretary Austere Panadero said synchronizing programs have become necessary given the impact of extreme weather “that has become the norm instead of the exemption.”
The six Cordillera provinces and Baguio have started synchronized planning because the region hosts watersheds that feed the river systems of northern and central Luzon, the Regional Development Council said.
Panadero was here to introduce the Seal of Disaster Preparedness, a variation of the performance standards program called the Seal of Good Housekeeping imposed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Yolanda Sotelo and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon