PHIVOLCS pushes for involvement of barangays in earthquake preparedness drills

MANILA — Cooperation among the public and local government units is vital on ensuring preparedness and preventing casualties when earthquakes strike communities.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Director Renato Solidum, concurrently Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, stressed the importance of community involvement in implementing disaster preparedness measures in Metro Manila and its nearby provinces.

Solidum proposed holding regular earthquake preparedness and evacuation drills in barangays to inculcate awareness on the effects of earthquakes in communities during the meeting of the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC) held Wednesday at the Metro Manila Crisis Monitoring and Management Center in the central office of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Guadalupe, Makati City.

Since the Philippines is situated among various fault systems wherein quakes happen at any time due to their movements, it is important that the barangays must establish teams of first responders for earthquakes and other natural calamities.

An efficient communication system must also be established for coordination of rescue services and dissemination of vital information while helicopters, ambulances and other emergency vehicles should be swiftly deployed as major earthquakes damage critical infrastructures resulting to the isolation of various communities.

“We must establish programs that can help communities increase awareness and encourage them into action towards preparedness for disasters,” Solidum emphasized.

“We must prevent leadership vacuum. Local authorities should always be on ready when disaster strikes,” he added.

For his part, MMDA Officer in Charge and General Manager Thomas Orbos, concurrently chair of the MMDRRMC, stated that the agency will propose to the Metro Manila Council (MMC) that its third Metro-wide earthquake drill be held at barangays on July 2017.

PHIVOLCS has suggested that the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite be included in the quake drill.

The MMC is the policy-making body of the MMDA consisting of 17 Metro Manila mayors.

“Preparedness must cascade down to the community level. Barangay officials and LGUs should provide a semblance of governance in cases of emergencies,” according to Orbos.

The Metro Manila Shake Drill is a metro-wide earthquake drill which aims to promote a culture of preparedness among Metro Manila residents for a possible 7.2 magnitude movement of the West Valley Fault.

It is organized by the MMDRRMC and managed by the MMDA, Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) and other agencies and stakeholders.

The MMDRRMC was convened Wednesday to tackle disaster preparedness measures of LGUs and government agencies after the recent series of earthquakes that struck the country.

Representatives of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Coast Guard, Armed Forces of the Philippines –National Capital Region (AFP-NCR) Command, National Capital Region Police Office, PAGASA, Philippine National Red Cross, disaster risk reduction and management officers of metro LGUs and other civic volunteer groups attended the meeting.

The MMDRRMC is composed of representatives of local government units in Metro Manila and regional officials of national government agencies. Aerol Patena/