MMDA needs 8,000 volunteers for quake response

Katerina Francisco
MMDA needs 8,000 volunteers for quake response
MMDA plans to recruit able-bodied men and women as volunteers for its disaster response team, should a powerful quake strike Metro Manila

MANILA, Philippines – As part of its efforts to prepare for a powerful earthquake that could strike the metropolis, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) plans to recruit and train 8,000 volunteers in emergency response.

MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency is looking for able-bodied men and women, aged 18 years old and above, to form part of its volunteer response corps who will be trained free of charge in disaster response techniques.

The MMDA has been preparing its earthquake response plan and coordination with various local government units, after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that Metro Manila is due for the “Big One” – a powerful earthquake that could strike the metropolis once the West Valley Fault moves.

The death toll could be around 33,500, with at least 100,000 injured, according to a study. Experts also say widescale damage is expected: power and communication lines would be cut, roads and bridges destroyed, and access to emergency services limited.  (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

Under Oplan Metro Yakal, the MMDA’s earthquake response plan, Metro Manila has been divided into four quadrants to speed up disaster response:

  • North quadrant: cities of Caloocan, Valenzuela, Quezon, San Juan and Mandaluyong
  • East quadrant: cities of Pasig and Marikina
  • West quadrant: Manila, Malabon and Navotas
  • South quadrant: cities of Las Piñas, Makati, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay and Taguig and the town of Pateros

Earlier, Tolentino said that he plans to tap university students to be part of a volunteer team that would help in rescue operations in the event of a strong earthquake that could hit Metro Manila.

Tolentino said the agency plans to recruit at least 2,000 volunteers from colleges and universities.

He will write to university administrators to discuss the proposal.

“These able-bodied college students can form a reserved responders’ corps. Because many college students hail from the provinces, they won’t have to worry about their friends and family if a quake strikes Metro Manila. These students can be part of a volunteers’ group,” he said. 

The MMDA also plans to conduct a metrowide earthquake drill on July 30. Tolentino said he will discuss plans for the simulation this week with leaders of Metro Manila’s local government units.

The agency will also be bringing its mobile earthquake simulator to the 84 barangays near the two major fault lines of the Greater Metro Manila area to help raise awareness on the effects of a powerful quake. – Rappler.com

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