Building assessment spots quake ‘red flags’

ILOILO City – Several buildings in Western Visayas – some located in schools – have cracks, according to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region 6, citing reports from various agencies that conducted earthquake building assessments.

The assessments were in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for such nationwide following the earthquakes that struck Mindanao last week.

OCD-6 consolidated the assessment reports of various agencies, said Regional Director Jose Roberto Nuñez.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) checked seven of its buildings in the region. One in Jordan, Guimaras had minor cracks due to previous earthquakes.

On the other hand, the Department of Education reported that Daragan Elementary School classrooms in Buenavista, Guimaras have major cracks on columns, walls and floors.

“We have to take seriously. Dapat handa po tayo. Tapos kung ano ‘yung mga emergency evacuation plans, just contact the OCD para tulungan namin kayo na mabigyan ng training,” said Nuñez.

In Mina, Iloilo, the local disaster risk reduction and management council (DRRMC) discovered seven elementary schools with cracks on walls and ceilings. Some school buildings were already dilapidated and prefabricated Marcos-type buildings were already showing their age.

Actually, according to Nuñez, long before President Duterte ordered a nationwide assessment of buildings, the Regional DRRMC already pressed for the integrity assessment of all structures via Memorandum No. 031-2019 issued on April 23, 2019.

It also urged local government units (LGUs) to craft “earthquake action plans” and for local DRRMCs to submit an inventory of equipment for Collapsed Structures Search and Rescue (CSSR).

Western Visayas has two earthquake fault lines (Panay Trench and Negros Trench).

“Huwag na nating hintayin kung kailan gagalaw…dapat may preparedness,” said Nuñez.

In Guimaras, according to Nuñez, the local DRRMC spotted barangay halls and health centers with light CSSR equipment.

In Patnongon, Antique, 15 buildings were inspected. Some of these – the very old ones – were recommended for demolition while schools in areas with a high risk of having landslides were recommended for relocation to safer grounds.

According to Nuñez, some local government units in Negros Occidental also submitted their respective building assessment reports – Bago City, Calatrava, Candoni, EB Magalona, Hinigaran, La Carlota, La Castellana, Manapla, Moises Padilla, San Carlos City, Silay City, Sipalay City, Valladolid, and Victorias City.

In Iloilo City, a composite team led by the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) kicked off on Thursday the inspection of the structural integrity of buildings, including government-owned infrastructures and facilities.

CEO Structural Engineer Cloyd Grecia said the directive was only for structural integrity but they also decided to involve the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

The first step they did was to conduct a visual/physical appearance review of the seven-story city hall to spot defects, especially on the structural component. It was followed by a series of inspections and evaluations.

The BFP also checked the condition of sprinklers and fire exits at city hall.

Inspectors found “minor cracks located on non-structural members”.

“We will stop there, we will no longer proceed with the strength evaluation because we have not seen damage to structural integrity,” said Grecia.

The non-structural component includes ceilings, windows, doors, and partitions, among others.

“We have not seen major defects or damage. What we saw were minor, superficial cracks that were not significant to the structural integrity of the building,” said Grecia.

Based on the data gathered, the city hall was designed to withstand an intensity 8 earthquake. It already weathered three earthquakes and typhoons.

“Occupants and visitors need not worry,” said Grecia.

Aside from the city hall, also up for inspection are the Iloilo City National High School, Fort San Pedro National High School, Jaro National High School, Mandurriao National High School and A. Mirasol Memorial Elementary School, La Paz National High School, Jalandoni National High School, and Ramon Avanceña National High School. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)


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