Press Release
August 25, 2014

Legarda: Safe Infrastructure, Crucial to Prevent Disasters from Earthquakes

In light of recent earthquakes, Senator Loren Legarda today said that the structural integrity of public infrastructure is vital in preventing an earthquake from turning into a major disaster.

Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, made the statement following the recent earthquakes in the State of California in the US and in southern Peru.

"All public infrastructure, such as buildings, bridges, the MRT and LRT, and other similar structures, should be evaluated for their structural integrity and retrofitted to withstand strong temblors because sound engineering practices would ensure minimal damages due to earthquakes," she said.

According to the the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency in 2004, 40% of residential buildings and 35% of all public buildings in Metro Manila could be destroyed or damaged should a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in the metropolis occur.

"We know that the Philippines is among the countries most vulnerable to earthquakes. A very strong temblor in Metro Manila is likely to reduce a big part of the metropolis to rubble and kill thousands of people. We cannot prevent an earthquake from happening, but with the proper preparedness and preventive measures, we can reduce the casualties and damages," she added.

Legarda said that other priority steps in earthquake preparedness include the regular conduct of safety drills; establishment of an early warning system for earthquake and tsunami; determining open spaces for safe refuge; and ensuring that back-up systems of vital utilities--such as electricity and telecommunications equipment--are in place for speedy recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

She added that every barangay in the country must craft an evacuation plan that would help citizens find out the fastest and safest way to reach open spaces and other safe areas.

"We will not tire of demanding from concerned government agencies the establishment of necessary mechanisms to secure our communities from the devastating effects of disasters such as earthquakes. We will also continue to urge communities to take the initiative in making sure that they are well-prepared so that they will not be caught off guard when natural hazards strike," Legarda concluded.

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