MMDA to activate “Oplan Metro Yakal” if Intensity 4 hits NCR

By on June 30, 2014

MMDA Chairman Atty. Francis Tolentino. Photo courtesy of MMDA's official Facebook page.
MMDA Chairman Atty. Francis Tolentino. Photo courtesy of MMDA’s official Facebook page.

MANILA — The “Oplan Metro Yakal” will be activated in case an Intensity 4 quake hits the metropolis, Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said on Monday.

MMDA said that “Oplan Metro Yakal” is an earthquake contingency plan designed to be carried out in case a severe tremor hits Metro Manila.

The “Oplan Metro Yakal” is primarily composed of the MMDA’s 6,000-strong workforce who were trained as rescue volunteers under Task Force Rainbow, along with 1,000 volunteers from various barangays and associations of fire brigades and civic organizations.

Under the contingency plan, all MMDA employee-rescuers shall report to their assigned sectors or base camps in the earliest possible time in the event of an earthquake.

If the earthquake takes place during office hours, Task Force Rainbow will assemble at the MMDA main office in Makati City, from where they will be deployed to areas that need immediate assistance.

During the meeting of Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) held at MMD headquarters in Makati City, Tolentino said the agency does not want to wait for a strong earthquake before the activation of its contingency plan on earthquake.

“Ang purpose nito ma-rehearse ng ma-rehearse. Kasi pag dumating yung 7.2 magnitude earthquake baka hindi tayo handa. Kapag may intensity 4, kikilos ang Task Force. Hindi tayo maghihintay ng beyond 4,” said Tolentino.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) described an Intensity 4 as moderately strong felt generally by people indoors and by some people outdoors. Light sleepers are awakened.

It further noted that a vibration like the “passing of heavy truck, hanging objects swing considerably, plates, glasses, windows and doors rattle, while floors and walls of wood framed buildings creak. Standing motor cars may rock slightly.

It added that liquids in containers oscillate strongly while rumbling sound may sometimes be heard.

The MMDA chief said all people involved in the plan will be pre-positioned until the Oplan Metro Yakal achieves higher level of confidence.

“Kelangan mapractice para maging second nature. Hindi lang drill taon taon or every quarter. Dapat kapag may nangyari, Intensity 4, activated na tayo. May tao na sa four zones. Yung Oplan Metro Yakal, go,” said Tolentino.

Tolentino also said that the announcement of the earthquake’s intensity must come from the Phivolcs led by Director Renato Solidum, who is present in the meeting.

On his part, Solidum said that local government units must know how to evaluate the intensity.

“Dapat alam ng LGUs kung paano mag-evaluate ng intensity. Hindi kami ang makakaalam ng intensity immediately kung hindi kami tumawag, hindi namin malalaman,” Solidum said.

The intensity meter is being used to measure the intensity of an earthquake, which is not totally determined by its magnitude, and varies from place to place.

He said the intensity meter is important since it is also being used as a guide to disaster preparedness and response.

He said the Phivolcs is deploying earthquake intensity meters in LGUs that can help them in evaluating an earthquake’s level of intensity.

“Initially, will have 100 divided to localities in Luzon Visayas and Mindanao. I don’t know kung ilang LGUS ang meron na pero dapat lahat,” he said.

He noted that there is no problem whether the announcement comes from Phivolcs or LGUs.

“The LGUs will report the data, we will receive the information and whatever information we receive we will place in our bulletin, pero manggagaling sa kanila,” he explained.

According to Solidum, the seismic meters — a box equipped with a small monitor and data communication capabilities — will be installed in various buildings.

He added it will be attached to the main post first or second floors of the chosen buildings to measure the structure’s sway during an earthquake.

When there is a tremor, Solidum said the sensors will automatically calculate the intensity of the earthquake and transmit the data to the Phivolcs database.

Metro Manila, for instance, is at risk of a big tremor from the West Valley Fault on the west and the Manila Trench in the east.

The fault line, which runs from the Sierra Madre mountain range through eastern Metro Manila to Southern Tagalog, could move at anytime and generate a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, Phivolcs said.

Solidum also explained the big difference between rural and urban evacuation.

”In many rural areas, pag mountainous, mas malapit lang yung shoreline, elevated. Dito sa Metro Manila, patag, walang elevated so what they do is vertical evacuation on strong buildings. Yung iba, evacuate horizontally but yung iba no choice umakyat pataas,” he said.