Press Release
March 12, 2011


Senator Chiz Escudero underscored the need to update and strengthen the disaster risk and management capacity in Metro Manila in light of a study by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which said that the metropolis would not be able to withstand a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

The JICA study, conducted with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, was presented during a hearing last month of the Senate committee on national defense and security which Escudero chairs, showed that Metro Manila would crumble if a temblor of this magnitude strikes.

In the wake of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that destroyed a wide swath of areas in Japan Wednesday and tsunami alerts in other parts of the world, including the Philippines, Escudero called for an immediate and thorough assessment of the country's disaster risk management capacity.

He added that a comprehensive inventory of resources was in order to appropriately respond to this type of disaster and its aftermath.

"We need to have a thorough audit of what expertise and logistics the agencies under the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) has so we can enhance, augment and close whatever gaps are there in relation to our coping response and capability in the event of a natural disaster such as a strong earthquake," Escudero said.

The JICA study said Metro Manila was not prepared to deal with a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in terms of existing resources and given old building structures around and within the metropolis.

Such magnitude, the study showed, will result in major fires in Manila, Pasig and Quezon City, and fire hydrants will not be enough that it would take seven days before authorities can declare "fire out" as major fire engines come from Quezon City and Pasig City, areas which are also at high risks.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) admitted in the same hearing that the metropolis' resources were limited to handle a strong earthquake although drills and preparations at various communities and local government units were ongoing.

In a position paper, the MMDA said it would need an initial capital outlay of P200 million for training and acquisition of additional tools to be able to adequately cope with big disasters such as strong earthquakes and its aftermath like fire and flooding.

Escudero said he was endorsing the request of the MMDA to the Department of Budget and Management and the NDRRMC to consider the request, saying "the amount is considerably small if compared with the gains it will reap in saving lives in an eventuality of disaster."

At the same time the senator called on all local government units not only in Metro Manila but also those in the countryside to fully implement the current policies and programs on disaster risk reduction as mandated by law so as not to be caught unprepared during disasters and calamities.

News Latest News Feed