Businesses should have continuity plans for disasters – MMDA, OCD

Aika Rey
Businesses should have continuity plans for disasters – MMDA, OCD
Are your business offices and employees prepared when the West Valley Fault moves?

MANILA, Philippines – Are private businesses in the country prepared for the “Big One?”

Experts say not yet.

But this is precisely the reason why some business groups and disaster management experts convened in a conference last Tuesday, July 14 in Makati. Organized by Corporate Network for Disaster Response (CNDR) and American Chamber Foundation, the conference aimed to raise consciousness on the potential effects on businesses of a possible 7.2-magnitude earthquake along the West Valley Fault. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

It also sought to encourage business owners to prepare for contingency plans as business centers are mostly located in Metro Manila where the fault passes by. (Read: High resolution West Valley Fault maps launched) 

During the conference, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Director Ramon Santiago emphasized the need for businesses to develop Business Continuity Plans in order to protect their businesses, offices and employees.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Director Renato Solidum emphasized the need to prepare for hazard-specific measures depending on location. Dangers that businesses may confront should such an earthquake strike would vary depending on depending on their location, he explained. (Read: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?

Participating business groups expressed the need to know more about the scenarios and on how to prepare for the quake. The CNDR, through its “Quadrant Initiative” will be launching a series of conferences to help businesses mitigate risks.

On the policy side, Atty. Pauline Caspellan-Arce of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) shared some of the highlights of the recently concluded writeshops that are part of the Sunset Review of RA 10121, the law on disaster risk reduction and management. She says that businesses, as stakeholders, should integrate disaster risk management in models and practices of enterprises.

The Sunset Review is the systematic evaluation of the Philippine DRRM Act of 2010. Caspellan-Arce says that, eventually, businesses will be compelled to integrate CCA-DRRM in their protocols. (Read: RA 10121: The PH’s disaster management law is up for review

“We need to formalize the partnership between the government and the private sector (in disaster risk reduction),” says Caspellan-Arce.

Oplan Metro Yakal

In preparing for the possible scenarios, Santiago calls for the participation of the private sector on the July 30, 2015 earthquake drill. 

The drill will commence at 10:30 am. Loud signals will be set off to announce the start of the drill, according to Santiago. All Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) are supposed to take part in this drill. (Read: Daytime, night-time quake drills set on July 30Metro Manila to conduct earthquake drills on July 30

During the drill, rescue groups will be performing life-saving tasks such as search and rescue operations as stipulated in Oplan Metro Yakal. 

Oplan Metro Yakal is an earthquake response plan designed to prepare for the “Big One.” It seeks to employ resources belonging to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Metro Manila DRRM Council (MMDRRMC), constituent LGUs and private organizations during the emergency.

Under Metro Yakal, Task Force Rainbow is created to prepare for and carry out missions related to earthquake disasters primarily in Metro Manila. Task Force Rainbow divides the NCR into 4 sub-task forces, namely: Sub-Task Force Rainbow North, East, West and South.

For effective evacuation, Task Force Rainbow also assigns mass evacuation sites per sub-task force.

Those who live in the North Quadrant will be going to the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center, those in the East to LRT 2 Santolan Depot, those in the West to Intramuros Golf Course, and those living in the South Quadrant to Villamor Airbase.

Santiago says, however, that these are for earthquakes only. A plan specific for a tsunami is a work in progress.

Hazard-specific preparedness

Aside from knowing what to do, PHIVOLCS Director Renato Solidum also explains that there are 5 earthquake-related hazards that may result from the quake depending on the location.

Faulting or ground rupture, ground shaking, liquefaction, fire, and landslides may happen any time.

According to the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) in 2004, there is a high probability of building collapse throughout NCR. Road networks will be affected by this, cutting off the rest of Manila from nearby provinces.

Solidum adds that the most important bridge that needs to be strengthened is the Guadalupe bridge as it links North and South of Manila.

Hazards per zone are categorized below.

HAZARD-SPECIFIC. Hazards per zone in case a 7.2-magnitude earthquake strikes NCR.

In calculating the impact of the earthquake, PHIVOLCS presented its project Rapid Earthquake Disaster Assessment System (REDAS). It has 3 modules – a hazard assessment module, an exposure database, and an impact assessment module – which seek to calculate the impact of the hazard vis-à-vis exposure dataset. (Read: Fault-finders, storm-chasers: Hazard mapping in the PH)

“We need to be hazard-specific to be able to focus on what to do,” says Solidum.

Sunset review

As part of preparations, the Corporate Network for Disaster Response is also participating in consultations on the Sunset Review of the DRRM law. The group plans to submit a post-conference consolidated recommendations on possible amendments to the law to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Monina Flores of CDNR highlighted the need for businesses and groups to coordinate in preparing for an impending disaster. 

“It is not enough that individual companies are prepared. Companies have employees, employees have families. Families live in communities and communities will be adversely affected by the earthquake,” Flores said .– Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.