Metro Manila not yet ready for ‘The Big One’—OCD

Metro Manila not yet ready for ‘The Big One’—OCD

THE Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has renewed its call for various agencies, local governments, the private sector, and every citizen to prepare for the possibility of ‘The Big One’—a magnitude 7 or higher earthquake hitting Greater Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

OCD Administrator Usec. Ariel Nepomuceno emphasized this at a symposium held at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, attended by representatives from local government units, government agencies, and the private sector.

During the meeting, Usec. Nepomuceno revealed that a 2014 study predicts more than 30,000 fatalities if such a powerful earthquake were to occur.

“So, what is our situation with regard to a 7.2 magnitude earthquake? There’s a projection. In 2014—it was funded by JICA, our friends from Japan funded the study along with PHIVOLCS, and in that study, it was projected that if this earthquake happened around that time, 30,000 to 32,000 casualties would be incurred. That’s a lot, that’s a lot,” said Usec Ariel Nepomuceno, Administrator, OCD.

However, despite numerous discussions and plans in various meetings, Nepomuceno admitted that Filipinos are still not ready if a magnitude 7 or higher earthquake strikes.

“People are expecting that we are very prepared. The communities are thinking that we are fully prepared to respond, but are we really that ready? I’m sorry to say that my personal answer is not yet. We have a lot of things in place, but overall, not yet,” added Nepomuceno.

Nepomuceno explained that the sincerity to address calamities is not a priority for many Filipinos.

“The big problem with disaster management is this: this is not on the priority list of our people. What’s important when you survey? What are the most important concerns or issues that bother Filipinos? Disasters or calamities are not at the top of their minds,” he added.

Additionally, he admitted that even some in the private sector or organizations do not cooperate on the issue.

“It is very difficult to do our mission if, in the first place, all those who are involved in the preparations and response are not aware, fully aware of the role of each other and other agency or organization will react or, in the first place, prepare,” stated Nepomuceno.

Part of the OCD’s plan is to check the integrity of each building to ensure compliance with the building code.

“We should really have this mindset. Number one, we have to follow the strict provisions, the safety provisions of the building code and the structural code of the Philippines, very strictly. We have to strictly follow the safety provisions of the building code. No matter what preparations we do, our dock cover and hold, if people are in a weak structure, that will be their grave,” he also added.

To further raise awareness about the dangers of ‘The Big One’, the OCD will hold regular face-to-face meetings and discussions on this critical issue.

“We lack in practicing or using existing partnerships and we definitely lack possible partnerships, especially in the private sector because the government cannot do it alone. The victims are our countrymen in the private sector, so we have to meet and institutionalize this kind of activity. We need to talk,” Nepomuceno concluded.


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