Phivolcs reiterates need for strict building code compliance to cut disaster risks

Robie de Guzman
Rescuers walk next to a damaged market in the quake-hit town of Padada, Davao Del Sur province, Philippines, 16 December 2019. EPA-EFE/CERILO EBRANO

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Tuesday reiterated its call for strict compliance of the national building code to reduce, if not totally avoid, the risk of disasters in the event of strong earthquakes and other geological hazards.

Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum, also the director of Phivolcs, said commercial and residential buildings constructed using materials prescribed by experts and in compliance of the building code can withstand strong earthquake intensities.

“Sa ating building code, sa kasalukuyan, kung sinusunod ito hindi lang sa disenyo at sa materyales na ginagamit at workmanship o tamang paggawa, hindi po dapat mag-collapse sa intensity 6. Kayang mag-windstand ng ating mga istraktura ng intensity 8 na pag-uga ng lupa,” Solidum said.

The Phivolcs official renewed his call following the magnitude 6.9 quake that rattled parts of Mindanao on Sunday.

The tremor left thousands of families homeless, and their homes heavily damaged, especially in the town of Magsaysay in Davao del Sur.

According to Magsaysay Mayor Arthur Davin, the recent quake destroyed more structures in their town compared to the three strong temblors that hit their area in October.

“Sa pang-apat na lindol, mas dumami yung mga bagay na nasira sa amin. Dati noong last earthquake noong [October] 31, nasa 1,600 na bahay lang yung bumagsak. Ngayon, nadagdagan ng mga more than 1,000 or 2,000. Hindi pa kasi tapos ang evaluation namin,” he said.

Since the series of earthquakes in Mindanao in October, Solidum said a team from Phivolcs have been inspecting structures in quake-hit areas, including Cotabato, which found several schools and buildings to have been built using substandard materials.

“Ang isa sa mga problema, yung quality ng hollow blocks… Tapakan lang yung hollow blocks sira na, kurutin mo hollow blocks, masisira agad,” he said.

Solidum also suggested to include basic construction information in the school curriculum to educate the younger generation about the standards in erecting a building.

“Ituro na sa mga kababayan natin sa high school pa lang kung magpapatayo ng bahay, ito yung basic natin, ito yung basic shape para maging matibay sa bagyo at lindol,” he said.

He also urged the public to visit Phivolcs’ website and use its feature “How safe is my house?” to check whether a structure or a building is built to withstand disasters. – RRD (with details from Bernard Dadis)

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