Local government units (LGUs) in Bulacan province were warned not to be confident with their regular earthquake drills and should also consider more devastating danger should the “The Big One” happens.
Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado on Sunday said while he does not want to picture a grim scenario, authorities should not overlook the massive devastation that could happen if a magnitude 7.2 earthquake or the The Big One jolts the west valley fault line that could break the aging Angat dam, which according to experts is nestling within the fault line and is located in one of the most steepest mountain slopes in the world.
The 49-year-old Angat dam is under rehabilitation and strengthening since last year under the operation of Angat Hydro Corp.
The governor has asked dam engineers to give him regular updates on the ongoing repair of the dam.
Alvarado said when he was still the vice governor of Bulacan, he delivered a privilege speech at the Sanguniang Panglalawigan where he cited a statement of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on July 16, 2009 regarding the agency’s justification for construction and operation of Laiban dam.
That statement says, “The Angat main dike axis is right on the recently confirmed Marikina Valley system fault. The main dike straddles the fault, which stretches from Taal lake area to Angat river. The dike has one of the steepest slopes in the world. Seepage has been observed right after its construction. The design criteria for the dam, particularly for seismicity, may not be sufficient considering the latest requirements for design codes and regulations.”
At the time, Alvarado said, he revealed that the aging Angat dam is like the proverbial sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of Bulakenyos.
He noted that Angat dam is already 49 years old and the lifespan of the dam is 50 years.
Some sectors, according to the governor, are asking him for updates on the rehabilitation and strengthening of Angat dam.
Some of them, he said, are asking if the ongoing repair is suited to withstand a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.
“Many of them are anxious and believe that the destruction that a dam break would cause is highly unimaginable. Once it breaks, voluminous amount of water will come down cascading like bullets carrying with them huge boulders, cut logs and other debris to the lowlands that will eventually end up in Manila Bay,” the governor noted.
He said concerned authorities have estimated that at least 38,000 would die in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) once The Big One strikes.
But, the governor added, they have not considered effects and aftermath of a dam break.
“Millions will die instantly, most of whom will be washed away and wiped out. Aside from this, the aftermath will bring more deadly consequences since the Angat dam supplies 97 percent of the potable water needs of Metro Manila. Survivors will surely die from thirst,” Alvarado said.
He added that drills are doable but only the mercy and love of God can prevent such dreadful calamities from happening.
Alvarado said the province of Bulacan is regularly holding a “Day of Prayer” to save the land and the entire country from calamities and evil forces that want to destroy it.
In his message during the “Bulacan Day of Prayer-Peace for the Philippines” at the Bulacan Capitol Gym here recently, he noted that in times of disasters and when evil forces attempt to destroy a peaceful land, faith and prayers can help big.
Alvarado said it has become a common practice for provincial capitol employees, particularly at the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, to stop for a moment and offer prayers to God every 12 noon daily.
He added that in every gateway of the province, giant billboards have been put up to remind Bulakenyos of the love and mercy of God as inscribed in II Cronicles 7:14 – “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”