THE feared “Big One” or the powerful earthquake that may strike Metro Manila (National Capital Region or NCR) will be among the scenarios that would be undertaken in the annual military exercise between the Philippines and the United States, an official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP disclosed on Sunday.
Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson, Exercise Balikatan 2016 spokesman, said this is part of the command post exercise (CPX) or table top exercise to “test” how top AFP officials would react if the powerful earthquake hit the NCR.
“All [the]AFP generals will be placed in a certain room, there will be two opposing forces there. They will do the simulation and since this is a military exercise, we will see how our generals [react]when a crisis happens,” Sayson explained.
For instance, he said, if the the earthquake directly strikes the West Valley Fault, the scenario is how the AFP will deliver its array of forces, how would it react to situation, how they would it coordinate with the President and what will be the command and control mechanism.
“Then of course we are expecting the arrival of allied countries like America. Because of bilateral relations through the MDT, we can invoke that they help us in any force of crisis,” Sayson added.
The MDT is the Mutual Defense Treaty signed by the Philippines and the United States in 1951.
The CPX, which will start on March 28 to 31, will carry out several other scenarios.
Sayson did not disclose what these other scenarios are.
Last year, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) successfully staged the first-ever synchronized earthquake drill in Metro Manila.
Following what was dubbed as “Shake Drill,” Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum is positive that the awareness of Filipinos on the “Big One” has greatly increased.
The West Valley Fault, which cuts across the NCR, with more than 12 million people, and outlying provinces, can shift anytime based on its seismic history.
Sayson said that since military and civil authorities would automatically be the first responders, the Armed Forces must be fully aware of the contingencies.
“Will the AFP pull out its forces in Northern Luzon Command to help? Is it going to pull out the Southern Luzon Command to help because a vast majority of its forces have moved forward to a certain part of the Philippines? So there are many ifs because this is a military planning,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Sayson said the US forces and their war materiel to be used in the war games will start arriving on Monday in several undisclosed locations in the country.