MANILA–The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Wednesday assured the public that earthquakes becoming more frequent is not a sign of the so-called “Big One” or magnitude 7.2 earthquake happening in Metro Manila soon.
Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum made this clarification in a Senate hearing into the agency’s efforts to effectively disseminate information and allay fears and combat false information online.
Solidum, however, acknowledged that there is still a chance that the “Big One” could come anytime. He said earthquakes remain “unpredictable.”
He said that an estimated 23,000 people could perish if the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck Surigao del Norte in February occurs in Metro Manila.
Nine people were killed in the Surigao del Norte quake that occurred last February 10, 2017.
“The more people, the more houses, the more deaths,” Solidum said in Filipino.
He said that every zone in the country must be able to survive on its own by determining which areas have been hit by earthquakes the most.
The director also said that the government should also spearhead more TV or YouTube advertisements as part of its information dissemination campaign.
Alarmed by the extent of damage that could result from a possible strong earthquake in Metro Manila, Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV stressed the need to conduct continuous inspection and periodic evaluation of buildings and houses for resiliency was necessary to mitigate the effects of earthquakes.
Aquino, chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, urged both national and local government (LGUs) to ensure that buildings, houses and other structures can withstand strong earthquakes.
He stressed that half of that number are informal settlers, whose houses are not structurally sound to withstand strong tremors.
The senator said that this extent of damage can be avoided if structures and residential houses will only comply with the Building Code, enabling them to withstand earthquakes of up to magnitude 8 to 9.
“We need to conduct a periodic review of the resiliency of our structures, especially houses, to ensure that it can withstand strong tremors and avoid loss of lives,” Aquino said.
He also asked the Congress to conduct a periodic review of Republic Act 10121 or the Act Strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System to make it up with the times.