DEPUTY Speaker Loren Legarda urged government to ensure that public infrastructure must be designed and built to be resilient to strong earthquakes, typhoons, flood and other extreme weather events.
Legarda has joined other lawmakers and solons in calling for strict inspection to buildings following series of earthquakes in Mindanao.
In retrofitting bridges and other public infrastructure, the government shall give priority to areas considered to be highly vulnerable to seismic activity, Legarda also said.
“In light of the recent earthquakes that jolted the Mindanao area, structural integrity of public infrastructure is vital in preventing an earthquake from turning into a major disaster,” she said.
According to the recent report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the earthquake that was felt in North Cotabato on October 29, with a magnitude of 6.6.
The latest earthquake in Cotabato killed 16 people.
“Earthquakes turn into major disasters due to unsafe and poorly built structures, inappropriate site location of infrastructure projects, inadequate design and materials specification, and shortcuts in construction,” Legarda said.
She added that government must ensure that all public structures, especially bridges, school buildings and hospitals, are earthquake-proof through the conduct of a nationwide structural evaluation and by retrofitting these structures to allow them to withstand destructive natural occurrences such as earthquakes.
Legarda also reiterated her call for preparedness against earthquakes in all parts of the country as a temblor of the same magnitude can happen any time.
She said the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), which was conducted by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), warned of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila.
The Philippines is among the countries most vulnerable to earthquakes.
Legarda said 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 are in place for speedy recovery and rehabilitation efforts, and a ready evacuation plan in every barangay.