17 Metro Manila mayors vow to prepare for the ‘Big One’By Niña P. Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Metro Manila’s 17 mayors have vowed to take steps to prepare their respective areas for a strong temblor, including conducting an earthquake census to determine if the buildings, houses and other structures under their jurisdiction will be able to withstand the “Big One.”
According to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, the different local government units (LGUs) approved his proposed “earthquake risk audit” during a recent Metro Manila Council meeting.
The special meeting of the council—the policy-making body of the MMDA composed of all the 17 mayors in the metropolis—was held on Wednesday with President Aquino at the Palace.
MMDA Assistant General Manager Emerson Carlos said that the President and the mayors talked about preparing for a strong earthquake, like the 7.2-magnitude temblor that jolted Bohol and Cebu provinces.
In Tolentino’s earlier proposal to the mayors, he said they should take another look at some provisions of the National Building Code and conduct an “earthquake census to be able to initiate corrective measures even before an earthquake strikes.”
Tolentino added that during the meeting with Aquino, each LGU agreed to identify public and private buildings, including houses, with structural deficiencies.
They also promised to use the hazard risk maps and the study conducted by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) in collaboration with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and MMDA in their urban planning and disaster risk management efforts.
The 2013 AusAid study predicted that 37,000 people would perish in Metro Manila alone in the event of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.
Meanwhile, Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman said in a phone interview that his city would be among the first LGUs to conduct the hazard risk audit.
“We are now starting to do that,” De Guzman said, noting that the mayors on Wednesday took note of the results of the latest study made by Phivolcs and AusAid and expressed their intent to incorporate the findings into their decision-making.
Portions of Marikina and other Metro cities sit on the West Valley Fault, which experts say can move at any given time.
Tolentino said the earthquake census may begin before the end of this year in selected pilot barangays (villages) in each LGU.