The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has reiterated the importance of the active participation of local government officials and the public in strengthening earthquake preparedness measures in Metro Manila as it began the 3rd Metro Manila Shake Drill Friday.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim said an effective communication system would be vital for local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila to coordinate emergency response and preparedness measures in the eventuality of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.
“We want to test the stability of our communication facilities in this exercise. Radio communication will be important during earthquakes,” the MMDA chief said in a press conference held at the Emergency Operations Center in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City Friday evening.
For his part, MMDA Oversight Committee on Public Safety head, Manny Gonzales, related that the agency was able to upgrade their communication facilities by acquiring satellite phones, which were distributed to the northern, southern, eastern, and western quadrants of Metro Manila.
The four quadrants of the earthquake drill are the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (north), Intramuros Golf Course (west), LRT-2 depot (east), and Villamor Airbase (south).
“We have seen a marked improvement in quake preparedness, especially at the barangay level, based on our initial assessments,” said Gonzales.
Lim was elated that LGUs have conducted their own drills, which were based on various scenarios, such as fire incidents, landslides, collapsed buildings and infrastructure.
“Many criticized us for doing this on a payday Friday, but we have to do this to simulate a worst-case scenario and to test our capability. We have to see how fast our response time is and how the various government agencies, the private sector and the local governments would react,” he said.
The drill officially started at 4 p.m., with the exercise sites being hit by a power outage and a disruption in cell phone communications.
Employees of participating companies received emergency alerts through text messages telling them to “duck-cover-hold!” and were made to file out of buildings in an orderly manner.
The 3rd Metro Manila Shake Drill will be conducted until Monday, July 17. The succeeding activities will focus on efforts to restore the delivery of basic services in quake-stricken areas.
Former MMDA chairman, Francis Tolentino, introduced the metropolis-wide shake drill in 2015 so the public would be prepared for the “Big One”, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that experts predict would happen.
Under Oplan Metro Yakal Plus, the contingency plan of the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC), Metro Manila was divided into four quadrants: north, east, south, and west.
Each quadrant has its respective commander and emergency operations center, which will be staffed round the clock and ready for response in the event of an emergency. Quadrant commanders take the lead in ensuring orderly response efforts within their quadrant, while coordinating with the MMDRRMC.
They have also prepositioned equipment to help with the rescue of casualties and collapsed structures, augmenting the resources of the LGUs, such as cities and barangays. Each city, municipality, and barangay takes primary responsibility for response operations and evacuation centers in their immediate areas. (ABP/PNA)