Press Release
March 26, 2010

Quake readiness everybody's responsibility - Villar

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manny Villar yesterday urged the citizenry to prepare for big earthquakes by having their personal emergency plan for disasters.

Villar made the statement after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake jolted Southern Luzon and Metro Manila Thursday afternoon.

Although no damage was reported, he said Thursday's earthquake scared some people and evoked reminders that people should prepare for the "big one."

"Preparedness ought not to be seen solely as a government responsibility although its agencies are better prepared than ever before. Each member of the family should know what to do in case of strong earthquakes because rescue workers may not be always around to attend to them," the NP standard-bearer said.

The Philippines sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area where large numbers of underwater earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology says 90 destructive earthquakes have struck the world during the past 400 years. It calculates that a strong quake could hit a part of the Philippines once every four or five years. The five strongest earthquakes in Manila occurred in 1658, 1771, 1863, 1880 and 1937. Two earthquakes--in 1677 and 1863--triggered a tsunami around Manila Bay.

Since 1900, over 30 earthquakes have inflicted some damage in the country, according to Phivolcs.

"Nothing beats personal preparedness. We should learn from the people of earthquake-devastated Chile who showed to the world the importance of perseverance after a large-scale disaster," Villar said.

"They have food, water and emergency supplies because they have stockpiled these long before the 'big one.' They even trained and practiced skills that are critical during disasters," he added.

He said no one could predict when the next earthquake will happen, but if everyone takes seriously the task of securing his own space, death and injury can be minimized.

Villar said to avert the disastrous consequences of a strong earthquake, the government should conduct regular inspections of the major thoroughfares, bridges and high-rise buildings in Metro Manila for retrofitting.

He also urged a review of the master plan for "Earthquake Impact Reduction," developed by Phivolcs and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which calls for preparation for even less powerful temblors than what hit Baguio City in 1990.

It calls for an index for planning that considers building collapse, flammability and evacuation difficulty.

The master plan takes into account evacuation routes and sites, emergency health and medical response, water and food security, search and rescue, information and communication and temporary refugee housing (as much as 223,700 units).

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