BAGUIO CITY— The City Building and Architects Office (CBAO) on Tuesday called on engineers and builders to design structures that can withstand an intensity 8 earthquake.
“We do not have the authority to mandate but we are appealing to the designers of structures to make their buildings ready and can withstand an earthquake with an intensity of 8,” CBAO chief Nazita Bañez said during the city hall hour.
She said the standard will require higher cost for the building owner but will assure the safety of the structures and the security of the funds used.
She said the national structural code of the Philippines only requires that buildings comply with standards which can withstand an intensity 6.5 earthquake but the city’s record was already intensity 7.7.
“We have experienced a 7.7 earthquake in 1990, there were several buildings that collapsed and killed people. It is above the national requirement of 6.5 That is why we are urging the builders to make their standard an intensity 8 earthquake,” Bañez said.
She said the structural engineers’ association in the country is currently drafting its proposed amendment to the building code to incorporate the change in the requirement that buildings must withstand an intensity 6.5 earthquake.
She also urged titled property owner to get a building permit, which will also assure that the design of their structure is sturdy.
“If they have a building permit, the engineer who designed it sealed and signed the design which attests that the materials and the design itself pass the standards. The building permit will assure the safety of the building because it was checked by the division in the government that issues the permit, the permit will also make sure that a soil test was done prior to the construction,” she said.
Bañez said under the rules and guidelines, structures which are three stories and above are required to undergo soil testing, which will also determine the kind of soil and the materials that must be used in the construction.
She, however, noted that only a few properties in Baguio have land titles, which are required in the issuance of a building permit.
The engineer also said that height is not an issue in assuring the safety of a structure.
“Height is not a factor whether it is safe or not. As long as it is properly and structurally designed, follows and uses a high standard of materials, walang dapat ikatakot (there is nothing to be afraid of),” Bañez added.
Meanwhile, Evelyn Cayat, city planning officer, said the city’s land use plan (CLUP) which covers zoning has considered the hazard maps generated by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
“There are identified sinkholes and they have been tagged as un-buildable zones in Baguio,” she said.
She said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) criteria of a slope which is “unbuildable” is no longer applicable in the city considering the very small area left to construct structures on.
She added that if such criteria are adapted, only 20 percent of Baguio’s land area could have been allowed for building.
“Several decades ago, the national government identified Quirino Hill as a relocation site, it was titled and awardees to beneficiaries who build their houses thereon, thus the impossibility of adapting the 20 percent threshold,” Cayat said. Liza Agoot /PNA – northboundasia.com