A bishop of the Roman Catholic church on Friday called on the public not to ignore government’s campaign to prepare for a powerful earthquake that may hit Metro Manila and nearby areas because of movement of the Marikina Valley Fault System.
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of the Diocese of Cubao advised residents of areas located along and near fault lines to prepare for any eventuality as disaster may strike any time without warning.
“When we receive some warning, some vital information, let us be serious about it,” Ongtioco told Church-run Radio Veritas.
“It’s just to advise people…When there are such warnings or advice, let us respond to it accordingly and seriously.”
Some areas in Ongtioco’s diocese were listed as among the barangay (villages) in Quezon City that lie along the West Valley Fault (WVF), one of the two segments of the Marikina Valley Fault System.
Cities and towns traversed by the 100-kilometer WVF may experience earthquakes of up to magnitude 7.2, while the 10-kilometer East Valley Fault, at most, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake.
Affected by the West Valley Fault are Quezon City, Marikina City, Makati City, Pasig City, Taguig City, Muntinlupa City and the provinces of Bulacan (Dona Remedios Trinidad, Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte City), Laguna (San Pedro City, Binan City, Santa Rosa City, Cabuyao and Calamba City) and Cavite (Carmona, General Mariano Alvarez and Silang).
Affected by the East Valley Fault are the towns of Rodriguez and San Mateo in Rizal province.
Ongtioco reminded the public to value their lives more rather than material possessions.
“Even though you fail to salvage a single property, it doesn’t change the fact that life is more important than any tangible object,” he said.
Ongtioco’s statement dovetailed a forum on earthquake preparedness hosted by GMA News network.
During the forum held also on Friday, Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said the nation’s capital Manila is barely ready in dealing with a high-magnitude earthquake.
On a 10-point scale, Tolentino rates preparedness of Metro Manila (National Capital Region or NCR) “below five.”
“If I were to grade our preparedness, I’ll give it a rating below five,” he said in Filipino.
Tolentino added that the MMDA is working double time in upgrading its response readiness capability to at least a “7.”
The MMDA chief cited a need to hold at least two “serious” earthquake drills where transport systems, power and water utilities, including radio and TV broadcasts and cellphone and Internet connections are switched off.
The drills, he said, should be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and simulate a scenario where basic infrastructure are down for three days.
Tolentino added that an earthquake as powerful as the one that hit Nepal this month and Bohol in 2013 would reduce Metro Manila to a pulp.
“Metro Manila has a booming economy, but have we ever thought that half of it would get devastated once a powerful earthquake strikes?” he said in the forum.
Previous studies conducted by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), with the help of Japan International Cooperation Agency and Geosciences Australia, said there would be over 30,000 casualties should a magnitude 7.2 earthquake emanate from the West Valley Fault.
“We need to ensure that, 24 hours after a disaster, the government must be functioning again,” Tolentino said.
Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr., who was also in the GMA forum, said preparedness must start at home, among families.
Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., meanwhile, underscored the importance of collective efforts from various stakeholders in assuring proper and efficient management in the aftermath of a strong earthquake.
“It is through collaborative efforts that we may be able to mitigate the impact of earthquakes and other disasters upon us,” Binay said.
In 2014, the Makati City Council passed a city ordinance institutionalizing the city’s earthquake contingency plan, which was drafted based on the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study.
Makati has a rescue unit manned by 52 trained personnel and 15 trainees.
It has four ambulances, a fire truck, a rescue emergency vehicle and an amphibious vehicle.
Makati Rescue also has a K-9 unit with dogs trained to conduct searches in collapsed structures
With JAYSON CRUZ LUNA