MISLEADING: Phivolcs ‘predicts’ a Metro Manila earthquake

MISLEADING: Phivolcs ‘predicts’ a Metro Manila earthquake
'We cannot predict when or where an earthquake will happen,' Phivolcs says, in response to an inaccurate claim posted online

Claim: A post on Facebook says that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) predicted that an earthquake would hit Metro Manila.

The post, dated January 8, 2019, claimed that whoever lived along the 100-kilometer fault line in Bulacan, Quezon City, Marikina City, Pasig City, Makati City, Taguig City, Muntinlupa City, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna would experience a magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

The earthquake would supposedly kill more than 30,000 people and injure 100,000 others.

The post also details a rescue plan.

Facebook user Allen Lapeña Llorente cited the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Education for the information.


Facts: Phivolcs has indeed been conducting an awareness-raising campaign about a potential big earthquake that could hit Metro Manila and surrounding areas in case the West Valley Fault moves. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

However, the agency has also repeatedly emphasized that there is no technology yet that can “confidently predict” when an earthquake will strike.

The warning in the Facebook post did not come from the NDRRMC or Phivolcs. In fact, the two agencies clarified this claim on January 10 through the NDRRMC’s official Facebook page, saying that people “cannot predict when or where an earthquake will happen.”

“There is no reliable technology in the world that can confidently predict the date, time, and location of large earthquakes. What we do is prepare earthquake scenarios of hazards and impacts to be used as guide for mitigation, preparedness, and response,” added the NDRRMC.

“Please avoid sharing these messages because your friends and relatives will think that you believe these messages are true and they will take your word for it.”

Phivolcs further clarified that the second half of the claim outlines the contingency plan Oplan Yakal Plus, which details the procedures to follow in case a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hits Manila. According to studies, the West Valley Fault appears to move every 400 to 500 years. For this reason, experts warn that what they call the “Big One” could happen in our lifetime.

Phivolcs also noted that the message did not mention the immediate response of government agencies to manage the potential effects of the West Valley Fault movement.

There have been a number of studies done on the impact of an earthquake on Metro Manila. Emergency measures have also been practiced through annual earthquake drills. (READ: LGUs, private companies participate in the 3rd #MMShakeDrill)

In 2004, Phivolcs and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, together with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, conducted a study on various earthquake scenarios called the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study.

In 2010, scientific agencies – grouped under the Collective Strengthening on Community Awareness on Natural Disasters – started the Greater Metro Manila Area Risk Analysis Project. They created maps to determine the depth, extent, and frequency of hazards in an area, and the worst-case scenarios through modeling.

There have been various information campaigns as well informing Filipinos about the findings of these studies and how they can better prepare or mitigate damage in the event that the “Big One” strikes. – Vernise L. Tantuco/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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