By Chito Chavez
With some portions of Quezon City transected by the West Valley Fault, outgoing Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista directed city building officials to assess anew the structural integrity of the city’s government offices.
He issued the order to ensure that all the city’s structures are disaster resilient.
Bautista also noted that private and government building owners must doubly ensure the safety of their occupants and the general public, by engaging professionals to examine their structures.
“Many of the government buildings in Quezon City are decades old. If these have to be retrofitted, then this must be addressed immediately,” Bautista said.
Bautista said that the Quezon City Hall high-rise building, which was built in the 1960s, and the legislative building, has periodically undergone retrofitting methods.
Incoming Mayor Joy Belmonte also urged city residents to prepare their own households for the eventuality of an earthquake.
To recall, two strong quakes hit Luzon and Eastern Visayas on consecutive days last month.
“Earthquakes could possibly occur anytime and unfortunately, there is no technology yet that could predict when it will strike. It’s better that we start educating ourselves now so that we could prepare ourselves and our communities for disasters like this,” Belmonte said.
The QC government through Bautista is doing its best in terms of disaster preparedness, while the 37-member city council presided over by Belmonte has been consistent to pass ordinances concerning disaster risk reduction and management, such as mandatory earthquake drills for all establishments.
“Under our ordinance, establishments should conduct earthquake drills twice a year. That’s mandatory and no establishment is exempted. Schools, business establishments, residential areas, markets, places of worship, health care facilities, and local government offices are all required to do the drill,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte noted that “Quezon City also has a contingency plan for worst-case-scenarios during an earthquake and, since last year, we have already adopted the disaster risk reduction plan in preparation for earthquakes and other disasters.”
“But this, of course, wouldn’t be effective if the people will not educate themselves and prepare ahead. Because during disasters, anything can happen. Although we try our best to respond to emergencies, still, we can’t disregard the fact that there are factors that are out of our control. That’s why we also suggest for families to plan ahead and prepare your own household,” she noted.
She reminded residents to check their homes for possible structural weaknesses, secure heavy appliances or furnishings that could fall and cause accidents, and assign exit paths in the event of a quake.
Belmonte said the government buildings in QC were declared safe and structurally sound by the City Disaster Assessment and Needs Analysis Team in the wake of last month’s tremor.