Senator Loren Legarda called on communities that were affected by the magnitude 6.5 earthquake in Leyte last week to remain vigilant for more aftershocks and other effects of the temblor as she renewed her call for strengthened earthquake preparedness measures.
“The occurrence of earthquakes is unpredictable that is why preparedness is all the more important. Hundreds of aftershocks, including the magnitude 5.4 aftershock today, have already been recorded following the 6.5 earthquake last week and these could further cause damage to already damaged structures,” said Legarda.
On Monday, a strong aftershock, recorded at magnitude 5.4, hit the province according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that while it is good that the government is undertaking earthquake preparedness measures through safety drills that familiarize citizens on what to do before, during and after earthquakes, ensuring the structural integrity of buildings, bridges, roads and other infrastructure is very critical and must be prioritized.
A team of geologists from Phivolcs inspected an affected area in Ormoc, Leyte over the weekend and discovered that there were structures sitting on the fault line.
“Earthquakes do not kill people; unsafe structures do. Earthquakes turn into major disasters because of poorly built buildings in inappropriate places, inadequate design and materials specification, and shortcuts in construction. Thus, inspection during the construction of both public and private infrastructure is important. We must realize that the additional expense required for making structures safe from earthquakes is worth it especially if it would save thousands of precious lives,” Legarda stressed.
“There should be evaluation of the structural integrity of our buildings and civil infrastructure, including roads, bridges, airports, train stations, and the like. There should be measures for the retrofitting of critical infrastructure to withstand earthquakes,” she added.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Legarda included provisions in the national budget that would strengthen the country’s resilience to natural hazards.
One special provision she introduced mandates that critical public infrastructure must be designed and built to be resilient to strong earthquakes, typhoons, flood and other extreme weather events. In retrofitting bridges and other public infrastructure, the government shall give priority to areas considered to be highly vulnerable to seismic activity.
The Senator also collaborated with various government agencies to produce the Disaster Preparedness and First Aid Handbook, which includes basic information on the causes, possible risks, what to do before, during, and after the occurrence of hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, flood, storm surges, thunderstorms, tornadoes, landslides, heat waves, structural collapses and fire.
Challenges Facing Filipinos Overseas Tackled at Global Online Confab
Senior officials of the government and private institutions will tackle different problems and challenges facing overseas Filipinos (OFs), including persistent illegal recruitment, at a global conference for overseas Filipinos to be held here and shown live on YouTube on Feb. 24 and 25.
The “2018 Global Conference of Overseas Filipinos & Livelihood/Investments Exhibition” also aims to help OFs identify which profitable livelihood projects that they can put up back home to secure the financial security of their families.
Between January and November last year, USD28.24 billion (PHP1.41 trillion) were sent home by overseas Filipinos through banking channels, according to data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Despite their huge earnings, many OFs have not put up sound investments, with scores still taking risks with illegal networking schemes.
“While overseas Filipinos are often hailed as modern heroes (bagong bayani) for sending home over USD20 billion a year, it is ironic that they are beset by numerous problems. This global conference aims to tackle these problems and help identify solutions to them with the assistance of government and private institutions,” said Alliance of Overseas Filipinos for Change (AOFC) President Juanito Concepcion.
Investments and livelihood are, therefore, a major focus of the conference organized by a Hong Kong-based NGO, AOFC, with LINKPAD Inc. in Manila as its secretariat and marketing arm.
Further details about the event and sponsorships can be obtained from LINKPAD at (02) 734-6300, (02) 788-6521, and (02) 500-0040, 0908-6199582; 0917-5932000 or at email@example.com.
Up to 10,000 overseas Filipinos gathered in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and in different other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America are expected to watch online this conference that will be shown live on YouTube and Facebook Live. (PR)
About 500 local participants — comprised of visiting OFs, OFs who have returned home for good, family members of OFs, officials of government agencies and private institutions relevant to OFs and other migration and development stakeholders — are also attending the conference.
PH Top Officials Discuss Names on 5 Features in PH Rise
Various government officials will meet to discuss possible Filipino names to give to the five underwater features in the Philippine Rise (formerly Benham Rise) named by China.
In a message Wednesday, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that this matter would be discussed by him, National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon and other members of the Cabinet.
“Pag-uusapan pa namin ni NSA (Esperon) and ibang Cabinet members. (We will talk about it with NSA and other Cabinet members) As for me, I would also give these features Philippine names,” he added.
The DND chief made this statement after maritime law expert Dr. Jay Batongbacal revealed that China successfully named five undersea features in the region, all within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country, as approved by the International Hydrographic Organization in 2017.
Three of the features were reportedly “discovered” during a survey by the Li Shiguang Hao of the China Navy Hydrographic Office in 2004 and the names were submitted to IHO for consideration in 2014.
The remaining two features were “discovered” by the same ship but proposals for names came in 2016. The features named are the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts said to be within 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan, and the Haidonquing Seamount located east at 190 nautical miles.
The other two named Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount forms the central peaks of the Philippine Rise undersea geological province itself, said Batongbacal.
On Wednesday, Malacanang said the Philippine Embassy in Beijing already raised the subject with China.
‘Basyang’-Affected Families Now at 37k
The number of families affected by Tropical Depression Basyang has now climbed to 37,138 or 152,025 persons residing in 387 barangays in 15 provinces in western, central and eastern Visayas, and Caraga, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in its Thursday update.
Ricardo Jalad, NDRRMC executive director, said 10,307 families or about 40,089 persons have sought refuge in 194 evacuation centers, while another 470 families or 2,282 individuals are being aided outside evacuation centers.
Jalad also said that 350 houses have been damaged, 66 totally and 284 partially, in western and eastern Visayas, and Caraga.
A total of PHP2,801,016.94 worth of assistance has been provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local government units to affected families in Western Visayas and Caraga.
DA Rolls Out ‘Bigas Ng Masa’ Affordable Rice Program
The Department of Agriculture (DA) set its “Bigas ng Masa” affordable rice program rolling on Wednesday, initially launching it in Quezon City and shortly farming it out to its regional offices nationwide.
To make it more accessible to more Filipinos, the DA said Bigas ng Masa outlets can be set up in the regions, where farmers’ cooperatives can directly sell the affordable rice to consumers.
“We’ll help market their rice,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a media briefing Wednesday.
Aside from helping farmers earn, he said such marketing assistance under the Bigas ng Masa would eliminate price-raising layers of middlemen and other players crowding the supply chain, so consumers can buy rice that’s generally cheaper than what’s sold in the market.
With Bigas ng Masa, DA said consumers can buy quality rice at PHP38 per kilogram.
The DA assured looking into interventions that would further lower rice prices without draining the farmers’ income.
Piñol expressed disappointment over reported increases in commercial prices of rice after reports that the National Food Authority has dwindling rice stocks.
He said this should not be the case, as rice harvest in the country even increased last year, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The DA and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) assured the country’s rice situation is under control, noting “there’s enough rice for everybody” for 92 days straight.
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