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Caloocan City eyes new building to replace 61-year-old city hall

MANILA, Philippines — After being warned of thousands of deaths and injuries and massive damage should a huge earthquake hit Metro Manila, the Caloocan City government has highlighted the need to replace the aging Caloocan City Hall, which authorities say might be nearing the end of its serviceable life.

Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan said the city government has been planning to build a new city hall building in 2014, to replace the current one built about 61 years ago.

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“I haven’t allocated funds for painting or any renovation of the main City Hall building for 2014, because we hope to spend on the construction of a new one to replace it,” Malapitan said in an interview, over the weekend.

“The main City Hall building was built in 1952. We have the oldest, maybe the ugliest city hall in Metro Manila. We don’t want a beautiful one, but we just want a safe workplace for the employees and the people who go to the City Hall,” he added.

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Malapitan noted that ever since he assumed his post at the end of June, he has expressed concern about the structural integrity of the building, which has been housing critical offices such as those of the mayor, accounting, treasury, business permits and licensing, budget, among others, for decades.

“One time the ceiling above my office was shaking,” said Malapitan, referring to his office on the second floor of the building. “When I had it checked, apparently, there were students practicing in the hall above my office.”

Malapitan said that he has ordered a limit as to the number of people who could be inside the city hall’s multipurpose hall on the third floor, one of the few temporary remedies to ensure the safety of the building, the foundations and floors of which were partly made of wood.

“But we can only do so much, so we hope to build a new one next year. There’s a 600-square meter vacant lot at the back, and if this current building is demolished, we can have a 1,500 square meters of space on which to build the new city hall,” Malapitan said.

The construction is expected to take place for the better part of the year, with the offices moving to suggested temporary offices at the city government’s commercial building.

Malapitan made the statement after seeing the presentation of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum that over 3,000 people could be killed and 54,000 more could be injured in Caloocan City alone if a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, the same strength as that which struck Bohol last month, were to hit the west Valley Fault in Metro Manila.

Solidum also noted that 5.6 million square meters of the total floor area in Caloocan could be completely damaged and the city would need about P119 billion to reconstruct the city from a devastation caused by the earthquake.

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Aside from pledging to build a new city hall, Malapitan also ordered the City Engineering Office to check other government-owned buildings to see if these could survive a major earthquake.

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TAGS: Caloocan City, City hall, Construction, disaster risk management, Disaster risk reduction, Earthquake, Local authorities, Local Governments, mayor, Metro, News, Oscar Malapitan, structural safety
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