ARE WE QUAKE RESILIENT? Only two towns in WV submitted infra integrity reports – Civil Defense Office

The Calle Real in downtown Iloilo City is riddled with decades old buildings. How resistant are these structures to destructive temblors like the ones that hit Mindanao in the past two weeks? (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Jennifer P. Rendon and Emme Rose Santiagudo

The series of destructive earthquakes in Mindanao in the past two weeks was enough to jolt officials in Western Visayas to prepare for such scenario.

In fact, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD-6) issued the call for preparations right after the magnitude 5.9 earthquake jolted Batanes province on April 22, 2019.

The OCD-6 memorandum required the 2 highly urbanized cities, 14 component cities, and 117 municipalities in Western Visayas to submit assessment reports on the structural integrity of infrastructures in their areas.

“The purpose of which is to assess whether a structure is fit to withstand the service conditions safely and reliability. Baka may mga buildings or structures na masyado ng luma and need to be vacated,” OCD-6 regional director Jose Roberto Nuñez said.

But more than six months after the issuance of the memorandum, only two municipalities submitted their reports.

Nuñez, also the chairman of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC)-6, said only the local government units (LGU) of Tapaz in Capiz province and Patnongon in Antique complied.

The two LGUs mostly assessed school buildings in the absence of any mid-rise or high-rise structures in their localities.

The towns also noted that some school buildings should be relocated because they sit on landslide-prone areas.

“But I don’t know the reason why other LGUs failed to submit their assessment report. On the average, it could be done in a month’s time,” he said.

In the case of Iloilo City where high rise buildings abound, Nuñez said it can team up with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to check the infrastructures’ integrity.

Baka nakalimutan lang nila. Or baka hindi rin nila priority,” Nuñez.

After the first strong earthquake that rocked Mindanao, Nuñez again issued a memorandum on October 22 reiterating the submission of the assessment reports.

LGUs have until 5 p.m. today, Nov. 5, to submit their reports.

“I hope they will take our request seriously. This is not for us. This is for them and their constituents,” Nuñez said.

He said local chief executives (LCEs) can compel their municipal disaster risk reduction and management offices (DRMMOs) to make the assessment reports.

If they won’t still comply, Nuñez said he might refer the situation to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) which has power over the LGU.

“What we could do is to ask. We don’t have the power to penalize,” he said.

Nuñez also noted that among their partner agencies, only the DILG-6 was able to submit an assessment report on the structural integrity of the agencies’ infrastructures

DepEd-Schools Division of Guimaras was also able to comply.

He stressed that even non-government structures should also be subjected to assessment.

Parts of Mindanao were rocked by three strong earthquakes – magnitude 6.3 on Oct 16, magnitude 6.6 on Oct 29, and magnitude 6.5 on Oct 31.



As a follow up, the RDRRMC-6 on Nov. 2 directed all LGUs to submit earthquake action plan for their areas of responsibility, inventory of equipment for Collapsed Structures Search, and Rescue (CSSR), and names of their trained CSSR personnel.

Nuñez said there is an urgent need to establish preparedness measures and arrange response priorities ahead of time for the region to properly respond to any earthquake incident.

Ang pinaka-importante is meron tayong preparedness, ang concern kasi natin pag may mangyaring lindol  hindi natin kailangan mag-intay ng response. Dapat magsubmit na ang LGUs ng action plan nila pagdating sa earthquake kasi hindi na talaga pwedeng pabayaan ito,” he said in a phone interview on Monday.

He cited the series of earthquakes in Mindanao for the “urgent need to establish preparedness measures and arrange response priorities ahead of time.”

“We need to ascertain how ready they are. They could also put in their report if they more training so that we could arrange for it,” he said.

He also urged LGUs to invest in facilities and equipment for disasters.