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.