Legarda renews call for safety, preparedness in disasters
Senator Loren Legarda has renewed her call for the nation to develop a culture of safety and preparedness to prevent natural hazards, such as earthquakes, from turning into disasters.
“Everyone should be ready when the ‘Big One’ occurs. Government agencies and all public institutions must be prepared,” Legarda said in a statement Wednesday, following the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) second Metro Manila Shake Drill—a simulation of conditions that can occur if and when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hits Metro Manila.
“There should be an effective early warning system and massive information and education campaign to equip us with knowledge on what to do before, during and after such disasters,” she said.
Legarda, Global Champion for Resilience of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said there should be regular evaluation and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure to ensure that buildings, bridges and other similar structures can withstand strong earthquakes.
Local government units (LGUs), including barangay (village) officials, she said, must determine open spaces for safe refuge when earthquakes occur and craft evacuation plans that would help the people find the fastest and safest way to reach open spaces and other secure areas.
Legarda said she would file in the 17th Congress a bill that will mandate the regular conduct of fire and earthquake drills in all public establishments, especially in schools and hospitals.
The drills, she said, should include practice and instructions concerning the location, use and operation of emergency exits, fire escapes, doors and fire extinguishers and other facilities provided for such purpose in buildings as well as the proper evacuation of buildings by persons in the event of fires and earthquakes.
The senator said there should be an effective early warning system like the “5pm chime” of Minato City in Japan. Everyday at 5:00 in the afternoon, she said, the instrumental version of the Japanese folk song “Yuyaku Koyake” is heard in speakers all around the said city. This is a way to ensure that the broadcast system and speakers are working correctly because the speaker network is used to warn people of emergency situations, especially disaster warnings.
“We also need to have this kind of early warning system in the country, so that wherever people are, they are informed of important announcements especially in emergency situations, thereby reducing risks, casualties and damages,” she said.
Legarda reminded that disaster risk reduction and preparedness can significantly reduce the impacts projected in the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS).
The study revealed that without the necessary interventions, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila could destroy 40% of residential buildings, damage 35% of all public buildings, kill 34,000 people, injure 114,000 individuals and the ensuing fires will also result in 18,000 additional fatalities. RAM/rga
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