At exactly 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, television and radio programs in Metro Manila will be abruptly interrupted to give way to a pre-recorded message announcing the start of an earthquake drill.
The message–voiced over by Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Director Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs)–briefly explains that the drill simulates expected movement of the West Valley Fault and will then be punctuated by a siren blast with shrieking voices and a rumbling sound heard in the background.
This is the cue for the estimated 7 million drill participants to “drop, cover and hold” before they get herded to safe grounds.
The pealing of church bells, siren blasts and tripping of fire alarms will also alert participants that a powerful earthquake is “in progress.”
Traffic constables will stop the flow of traffic on all roads for 45 seconds.
Operations of Light Railway Transit 1 and LRT 2 and the Metro Rail Transit 3, however, will not be disrupted by the drill.
The massive simultaneous drill is the first to be organized in response to experts’ warnings that the West Valley Fault system is “ripe” to make a movement “anytime within our lifetime.”
The fault system comprises a 10-kilometer East Valley Fault in Rizal, and a 100-kilometer West Valley Fault, which passes through six Metro Manila cities and parts of the Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces.
The disturbance in the West Valley Fault is expected to trigger an earthquake that is as powerful as what struck Bohol in 2013 (7.3 magnitud) and Nepal (7.8 magnitude) in April this year.
The MMDA has divided Metro Manila (National Capital Region or NCR) into four quadrants, each to simulate a particular emergency scenario.
The designated evacuation and command centers are: Western quadrant (Manila, Navotas, Malabon): Intramuros Golf Course; Northern quadrant (Quezon City, Caloocan, Valenzuela, San Juan, Mandaluyong): Veterans Memorial Medical Center Golf Course; Eastern quadrant (Marikina and Pasig): LRT 2 Santolan depot; and Southern quadrant (Pasay, Makati, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Pateros, Taguig): Villamor Air Base Golf Course
A separate drill will be held at the Ortigas Business District in Pasig City from 8 to 9:30 p.m.
Lights will be switched off throughout the drill.
Ritchie Van Angeles, Pasig City disaster manager, said the drill will test how authorities and the people will respond if an earthquake strikes at night.
Malacañang also on Wednesday called on all government and private offices and establishments in Metro Manila to join Thursday’s drill.
A memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. orders all heads of government agencies to authorize and encourage their respective officials and employees to participate in the drill.
“We ask the public to cooperate,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a news conference.
“I think it will be good and beneficial for all of us to be trained as to how to respond to a situation like an earthquake,” he added.
The Supreme Court (SC) will test the preparedness of its Emergency Response Team (ERT) in Thursday’s drill.
The ERT, which was organized from among judicial employees, is in charge of overseeing swift and orderly evacuation of employees from the SC premises to Paco Park which was identified as the assembly area.
With Rosalie C. Periabras and JOMAR CANLAS