A STRONG earthquake that rattled Batangas and other parts of the country, including Metro Manila, this month should be an equally strong reminder for government authorities to keep the public abreast of what actual contingency measures it has prepared in case the so-called Big One strikes.
If this supposedly super earthquake that would be generated by the West Valley Fault visited the Phil-ippines, what could we expect from the Duterte administration beyond the duck-cover-and-hold drills that in some places are not really taken seriously?
Stay calm. Don’t panic. The situation is under control.
These are tired and untested assurances that would do little to calm people when the lights go out and the faucets run dry.
They would also be of little help when mobile phones go silent, or prices shoot up.
The supposedly soothing words would not be able to steel hospitals and other medical services pro-viders into saving as many lives as possible and volunteer workers into alleviating the suffering of the dying and the injured.
In the streets, we can expect chaos and discipline will be the first to go out the window once govern-ment troops begin trying to impose order in the face of, among others, looters and other criminals out to prey on “rich” Filipinos and stores and other business establishments.
We could also expect evacuation centers to be crammed with people seeking shelter from the cold, the fear, the truth that they had been removed from their comfort zones.
Has the government come up with a list of possible temporary homes for the displaced?
Does it even have an idea of how many possible evacuees there would be?
How long will food supplies last and who gets them and at what cost?
Or, would the government just take its cue from Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan that ulti-mately it is prayers and the love and mercy of God that can prevent “this horrible disaster,” for in-stance, of the Angat dam in his province collapsing as a result of the “Big One?”
“The horror of it is unimaginable. The dam is located in the steepest slope of the mountain. Once it breaks, huge boulders, illegally cut logs and debris will cascade downstream and will wipe out every-thing in its path toward Manila Bay,” he said early this month.
According to Alvarado, he had foreseen the problem of Angat eventually conking out, the reason why he suggested that the dam be strengthened and rehabilitated.
He made the suggestion almost a decade ago and called attention to it during a privilege speech be-fore the Sangguniang Panglalawigan in September 2009 when he was the vice governor of Bulacan.
At the time, Alvarado said, the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System insisted that the solution to the problem with Angat Dam was the Laiban dam project but this project was shelved by President Corazon Aquino’s administration in December 1989 to give priority to “more practical” projects such as theAngat Water Supply Optimizing Project and the Umiray-Angat Transbasin Project.
The good news, according to the Bulacan governor, is that “the new operator of the dam—Angat Hy-dro Corp.—is undertaking the repair and rehabilitation of the aging Angat dam.”
Let us pray, if that were possible, that repairing and rehabilitating the dam that is just a few towns from Metro Manila would stand up to the presumed mother of all earthquakes.
If it does, then at least Metro Manila (NCR or the National Capital Region) will have water flowing from its taps as the region and possibly other areas of the country reel from expected aftershocks.
Seriously though, we believe that prayers can move mountains.