MANILA, Philippines – The nationwide simultaneous earthquake drill has improved greatly, according to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chief Alexander Pama.
“It is more organized and has reached the objectives. I see a big improvement compared to last year,” said Pama in a mix of English and Filipino.
The quake drill was held on Wednesday, June 22, orchestrating various scenarios across the Philippines. It also included the Metro Manila Shake Drill, an initiative by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Various simulations were also held in different regions, according to the NDRRMC:
|I||San Fernando City, La Union|
|II||Santiago City, Isabela|
|III||Barangay San Isidro, San Jose del Monte|
|Barangay Bayabas, Donya Remedios Trinidad|
|Barangay San Mateo, Norziagaray|
|Barangay San Lorenzo, Norziagaray|
|IV-A||Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba, Laguna|
|IV-B||Municipal Building, Poblacion Uno, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro|
|V||Provincial Capitol Compound, Sorsogon City|
|VI||Jaro National High School|
|VII||Philippine Regional Office 7 (Camp Sergio Osmena Boulevard, Cebu)|
|Cebu City Central School|
|VIII||Tacloban City Hall, Tacloban City, Leyte|
|IX||Zamboanga del Norte, High School, Dipolog City|
|X||Lala National High School, Lanao High School|
|XI||Naval Forces, Eastern Mindanao Command, Camp Panacan, Davao City|
|XII||Lagdo National High School|
|BASULTA||Basilan National Claret High School|
|Barangay Fuente Elementary School|
|CAR||Saint Louis University|
|CARAGA||Butuan City School of Arts and Trade|
|NCR||North, South, West, East quadrant|
|NIR||West City Elementary School, Dumaguete City|
|Corazon Locsin Montalibano, Regional Memorial Hospital, Bacolod City|
Pama said that this year’s quake drill was seamless in terms of operations.
“We improved not only in government operations but also the participants. We got reports that they have responded quickly compared to last year,” he said.
MMDA chief Emerson Carlos said that about 6 million people participated during the first Metro Manila shake drill in 2015, out of about 12 million residents within the region.
MMDA has not yet released the official count for the 2016 drill.
“Dala na rin siguro ng mga karanasan nung mga sumali last year at mukhang mas lumawak ang participation ng taon na ‘to,” Pama added, referring to the first Metro Manila shake drill.
(It is probably due to the experience of those who joined the drill last year, and it seems that more people participated this year.)
According to Rappler’s social media metrics tool Reach, the earthquake drill racked up over 4 billion impressions on Twitter with hashtags #MMShakeDrill and #Pagyanig. It means that On Twitter, “impressions” means “the times a user is served a Tweet in timeline or search results.”
“If it’s an indication of awareness, I think napakalaking bagay ‘non,” added Pama. (If it’s an indication of awareness, I think it is a huge thing.)
Meanwhile, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mel Sarmiento said that the drill showed how response capacity and awareness have significantly improved.
“Every year we improve and we add more equipment for us to use,” he said.
Sarmiento lauded the work of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in retrofitting many of the country’s roads and bridges to make sure that these will not collapse should an earthquake strike.
A major bridge that needs to be retrofitted, according to Sarmiento, is the Guadalupe bridge as it connects Metro Manila to the cities in the South. “Nakapila na ‘yan,” he said. (It is already in the pipeline.)
The interior secretary also said that there is a need to scale-up disaster preparedness efforts.
“We need to scale up not only in preparedness but also in resilience,” Sarmiento said.
Sarmiento called out those who have their houses constructed without consulting engineers. (READ: Part 2: What makes buildings earthquake-ready?)
“Yung mga nagpapagawa diyan ng ikalawang palapag, tatlong palapag na walang inhinyero, yan ang unang babagsak ,” the interior secretary cautioned.
(Those houses with second and third floors that are constructed without consulting an engineer, those are the first ones to collapse.)
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director Renato Solidum Jr reminded the public about the importance of being prepared.
“We have seen what will happen based on science and engineering, that’s why we need to be ready,” Solidum said in Filipino.
Solidum stressed that preparedness should start at home. (READ: Earthquake tips: what to do before, during, and after)
The drill sought to implement the National Disaster Response Plan for earthquakes and tsunamis and the Oplan Metro Yakal Plus, Metro Manila’s earthquake contingency plan.
According to the plan, the command center will be placed in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
Main coordination activities during the drill were carried out in Camp Aguinaldo. National government assets and aid from other regions were parked there as well as those from international organizations.
A first time participant, Vic Luna, founder of Unified Rizal Riders Club, participated during the drill at Camp Aguinaldo with his group. According to him, it is one event in which they could extend their skills as riders during disasters.
“I think this is one event that would entice [the group] to use their abilities in helping others,” said Luna.
Government employees within the compound participated during the drill as well and evacuated at the field nearby the command posts.
Wednesday’s drill sought to foster a culture of preparedness among residents in Metro Manila in the event of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake caused by the movement of the West Valley Fault. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)
It particularly tested the Oplan Metro Yakal Plus – the government’s response blueprint for a major earthquake affecting the Greater Metro Manila area. (READ: Authorities set stage for second #MMShakeDrill)
The drill has also been coordinated with other local government units, government agencies, hospitals, businesses, schools, BPOs, mall operators and the religious sector in order to ensure the widest participation across the country. It was organized by the OCD, MMDA, the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC), and other agencies and stakeholders.
MMDA collaborated with Rappler in building the mmshakedrill.ph site that features critical information that people and institutions need to know regarding the earthquake drill. MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, led efforts to crowdsource online participation during the drills using its disaster information platform Agos. – with reports from Pocholo Espina/Rappler.com
Pocholo Espina is a Rappler intern.