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#BatangasEarthquakes – Time to take disaster preparedness more seriously!

Even students of elementary level Science know that the Philippines is very vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions because it is part of the so-called Pacific “ring of fire.” According to the National Geographic magazine, 90% of all earthquakes in this planet each year occur in the region.  It also pointed out that 75% of all active volcanoes in the world are located there.

This week, Luzon was rocked by several strong earthquakes the past five days.  Last Tuesday night (April 4), a magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck Tingloy, Batangas. Its strength was felt elsewhere in Southern Tagalog, Bicol region, and even Metro Manila. Just four days later, another series of strong earthquakes emanated from the towns of Mabini and San Luis in Batangas. The strongest one was registered at magnitude 5.9.

These earthquakes naturally renewed fears about “the big one.”  It can be recalled that last 2015, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or PHIVOLCS released the Valley System Fault Atlas, a compilation of maps listing the communities in the vicinity of the Marikina West Valley Fault Line.

These areas are the ones likely to be hit the hardest in case the said fault line triggers a massive earthquake – perhaps as strong as magnitude 7.0. It is a scenario that experts project can happen within the next few years.

DOST PHIVOLCS Valley Fault System Atlas

The series of earthquakes from Barangas has renewed fears about “The Big One”
(Credits: DOST PHIVOLCS Valley Fault System Atlas)

In line with that, earthquake drills are now routinely held in public and private institutions all over the country. Last month, for example, the Batasan Hills National High School (BHNHS) in Quezon City organized a school-wide earthquake drill in cooperation with local authorities.

Barangay Batasan Hills is one of the areas that will greatly affected if and when the West Valley Fault System  moves. Making things worse for the said barangay is the fact that it is very congested. According to Philippine Statistics Authority, it has 150,000 residents as of 2010 ­which makes it the second most populous barangay in Quezon City. For its part, BHNHS is one of the biggest schools in terms of population throughout the country.

Here are some questions that need to be answered:

1) What is being done by local government units to raise awareness about the threat posed by the fault line?
2) Are there efforts to dissuade homeowners from acquiring and developing properties very near the fault line?
3) How is the local government and the different barangays in the area preparing for this possible disaster?

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