De Lima seeks Senate probe on gov’t readiness for the ‘Big One’

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    Sen. Leila M. de Lima has sought for an immediate Senate investigation into the readiness of the national and local governments to mitigate the impact of the possible occurrence of the “Big One,” a magnitude 7.2 earthquake feared to hit Metro Manila.

    De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 322 directing the appropriate Senate committees to assess the country’s earthquake preparedness following an increasing frequency of earthquakes that recently hit some parts of the country.

     “There is a need for a holistic assessment and strengthening of the respective capacities of national government agencies, local government units and other stakeholders to mitigate, respond and recover from a potential massive earthquake,” she said.

    Based on the 2016 World Risk Index, the Philippines which is situated along the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, the most active earthquake belt in the world, is considered as the “third most vulnerable country with the highest disaster risk.”

    De Lima cited a Japanese study which claims that Metro Manila is due for the “Big One” earthquake that may destroy an approximate 40% of all buildings in the capital, claim about 34,000 lives and injure up to 100,000 others due to collapsed buildings.

    She also noted another Swiss study which considered Manila as the “riskiest city in the world” next to Tokyo, Japan, considering that the country’s capital is located near two major fault lines – the West Valley Fault and the Manila Trench.

    Mindful of these two technical studies, the former justice secretary also called for an immediate review and possible revision of Republic Act No. 6541, also known as the National Building Code of the Philippines.

     “The National Building Code should be revisited and amended to ensure that homeowners and building administrators will upgrade and retrofit their houses or buildings to comply with the minimum requirements provided by the Code,” she said.

    De Lima pointed out that the Senate inquiry should look into how the present administration is implementing Republic Act No. 10121, also known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

    Under Section 2 of the RA 10121, the State is mandated “to uphold people’s constitutional rights to life and property by addressing the root causes of vulnerabilities to disasters, strengthening the country’s institutional capacity for disaster risk reduction and management, and building the resilience of local communities to disasters.”

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