Press Release
October 20, 2009


Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero is asking local government units and disaster management agencies to include rescue team deployments in earthquake and tsunami drills across beach towns and seaside villages being periodically done throughout the country.

Escudero made this assessment after a magnitude 5.2 earthquake rocked Southern Luzon and Metro Manila on Monday. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the earthquake's epicenter was located 44 km west of Batangas, or 70 km northwest of Calapan, Mindoro.

The 40-year-old lawmaker said it should be a signal for local government units to prepare for any possible disasters which can follow a tremor.

"What we saw in Indonesia and Samoa in recent weeks may as well happen to us. It is not my intention to cause panic, but local officials and citizens must be ready for the likelihood of another natural calamity," he said.

Backhoes, trucks, and even military units must be tapped in every earthquake and tsunami drill. Evacuation of residents and knowing where to go would be essential but the easy utilization of rescue vehicles and drilling equipment is also important.

In Indonesia, for example, more than 1,000 people were killed after being trapped inside buildings. Samoa was also not spared by a quake which triggered a tsunami killing more than a hundred people and even reaching Tonga.

"We saw how unprepared we all were when Ondoy and Pepeng struck us. Or rescue teams must be deployed immediately and without delay," he said.

He added that testing the equipment in every simulation would also be beneficial. He said that when debris and rubble destroy houses and injure unsuspecting people, rescue teams must immediately be on-site to clear debris and save lives.

Escudero also reiterated that the government should revisit their earthquake preparedness plans for Metro Manila, particularly in areas traversed by the (West) Valley fault (formerly called Marikina fault) line.

Escudero said the Metropolitan Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) includes 100 actions plans that would mitigate the impact on areas expected to suffer most from the projected quake.

He said that the additional P12 billion, which he was the principal author, for the Calamity Fund would not be enough should the fault line give way to more quakes.

"Alarm bells are not enough. There should be a dry-run for rescue teams and disaster officials. If an earthquake strikes, the rooftops wouldn't be enough to protect our citizens," he added.

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