25 buildings in Cebu City declared ‘hazardous’ due to earthquake damage | Inquirer News
‘OFF LIMITS'

25 buildings in Cebu City declared ‘hazardous’ due to earthquake damage

By: - Day Desk Editor / @dbongcac
/ 06:56 AM October 26, 2013

Red stickers at the entrance declare 25 buildings in Cebu City “off limits” due to damage from the Oct. 15 earthquake.

Aside from the Palace of Justice in the Capitol compound and Malacañang sa Sugbo, inspectors from the city’s Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) identified a private bank, a public college, four commercial buildings and a private elementary school as unsafe for occupancy. (See table on page 31)

The list may grow longer as structural engineers continue to check buildings in the city with over 800 requests still pending.

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Engr. Guillermo Diola of DEPW said the buildings marked with red stickers will remain cordoned and abandoned until repairs are made to correct defects.

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“Building owners have to hire their own engineers to determine how they can correct the defects depending on their own structural analysis,” Viola told Cebu Daily News.

Viola said fresh large cracks in the buildings indicate severe damage from the 7.2-magnitude earthquake, making the structures “hazardous.”

“We posted red stickers on these structures to warn the public against their use. Building owners should have their structures repaired if not rebuilt and certificated as safe for occupancy by their structural engineers,” Viola said.

After repairs, a certification that the building is safe to occupy must be submitted to the Office of the Building Official (OBO) for a separate inspection.

The 300-bed Cebu City Medical Center was vacated and its patients transferred immediately after the October 15 earthquake.

The other “hazardous” government buildings were identified as the Palace of Justice, the Commission on Human Rights regional office on Don Pedro Cui Street, the Malacañang sa Sugbo and the Police National Training Institute in barangay Apas.

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Barangay halls of Mambaling and the mountain village of Pung-ol Sibugay were also ordered vacated, along with the Teachers’ College building of Cebu Normal University in Osmeña Boulevard.

For private buildings, the Union Bank office along Borromeo Street in downtown Cebu City, the GMC Plaza near Plaza Independencia, the Cangha building near the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, the Compania Maritima building across City Hall and St. Mary’s Academy High School in Brgy. San Nicolas were also declared off limits due to quake damage.

Safety

DEPW engineers so far inspected 373 buildings since the Oct. 15 earthquake. Of this number, 25 were identified as “off limits” while 69 were issued yellow stickers for “restricted use.”

The remaining 277 structures were issued green stickers marked “INSPECTED” and declared fit for occupancy.

DEPW still has to check 838 other structures as of noon yesterday.

The city engineer’s office was flooded with requests for building inspections after the earthquake “but we cannot do them all at the same time because of our manpower limitation,” said City Engineer Kenneth Carmelita Enriquez earlier. She said they gave priority to badly-damaged buildings.

Executive Judge Soliver Peras of the Regional Trial Court complained yesterday that people were still entering some parts of the Palace of Justice and the Capitol despite the hazard warnings.

He said the Parole and Probation office on the badly-damaged fourth floor was filled with people who were packing their belongings on Thursday.

Even the photocopy machine operator on the ground floor was still there.

“They just ignore warnings. The court administrator was very clear with his instructions that no one should be allowed entry in the Palace of Justice. If entry is made, it should be regulated entry,” the judge said.

Jade Ponce, the mayor’s executive officer, said they would field more policemen in the site today to bar entry.

He said Mayor Michael Rama could use his police powers to take over the Palace of Justice and prohibit entry if needed.

Blueprint

Inspectors had a hard time locating blueprints in their office files for the field checks.

Engr. Ariel dela Cruz, the city’s structural consultant, said the October 15 earthquake was a reminder for OBO to strictly require building permit applicants to submit an electronic copy of the blueprint of their building plan as part of their application prerequisites.

“It is difficult to investigate something that you cannot find,” dela Cruz said.

Sometimes the blueprint files were “eaten by rats,” said Councilor Michael Ralota, who sponsored the resolution requiring applicants to submit electronic files of the blueprint.

He also authored a resolution approved earlier this year requiring soil tests to be conducted on the areas where structures of more than three stories will be erected to ensure soil stability.

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Both items – the electronic blueprint and soil test results – are currently required for building permit applications, said City Engineer Enriquez.

TAGS: Cebu City, Earthquake

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