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Imagination key to surviving disasters

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Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum believes that making Filipinos’ imaginations work to create difficult scenarios during disasters could help them survive the “Big One.”

Solidum said disasters are man-made, as it is a product of lack of preparation or appreciation of the hazard that is about to happen.

“The importance of having an imagination of what would happen is that we see the things that we need to prepare.

Disaster imagination is the key. As Albert Einstein had said, imagination is more important than knowledge,” he said.

Solidum, who is also the officer-in-charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, encouraged Filipinos to imagine what would happen when the West Valley Fault moves, which is projected to generate a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, known as the “Big One.” This quake is also capable of generating an Intensity 8 shaking all over Metro Manila, a big part of Bulacan, western Rizal, northern Cavite and northwestern Laguna.

“Imagine simple things like when there is an earthquake, where do you hide? Are your tables open? Are there no things inside so that you can fit? Anticipate which things will fall on you. These are forms of imagination that ordinary people can do,” he explained.

Experts have created 18 earthquake scenarios in and around Metro Manila, and among these, the West Valley Fault System that traverses Sierra Madre mountain range, Marikina City up to Tagaytay City, is considered to have the largest impact to Metro Manila should it generate a large earthquake.

With a magnitude of 7.2, the study conducted in 2002-2004 found that 170,000 residential houses will collapse, 340,000 residential houses will be partly damaged, 34,000 persons will die, and 114,000 persons will be injured.

Likewise, the government will be needing P2.3 trillion to rebuild.

“The reason why people die is because the society is unprepared for extreme events like earthquake, super typhoon, big tsunami or storm surge. It is because of the lack of a scenario or imagination of what could happen in terms of the effect and the scale of the effect,” Solidum said.

Congress is committed to pass at least 14 priority measure before it goes on sine die adjournment on May 31, House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said yesterday.

He said during their meeting at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel yesterday morning, Senate and House leaders agreed to pass the following bills: Free Internet Access in Public Place Act; Free Higher Education Act;Revised Penal Code Indexation; Philippine Mental Health Act; Philippine Passport Act amendments; Community Service in lieu of imprisonment for the penalty of arresto menor; and Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act; Enhanced Universal Healthcare Act.

Also included in the Legislative’s list of priority bills are: Penalizing the refusal of hospital and medical clinics to administer medical treatment in emergency cases; Agrarian and Agricultural Credit Condonation Act; Extension of Driver’s License Validity;Prohibit Conversion of Irrigated Land; Free Irrigation Services Act; and Inclusion of casinos in AMLA coverage.

Congress started buckling down to work yesterday after monthlong recess.

Farinas said both chambers agreed to pass the 14 measures within this month, but the approval of other priority bills will have to wait until September or December.

He said tax reform bill will likely be passed by “September or until December.”

“We cannot finish that this May, other bills can be passed by September or December,” he said. (ELLALYN DE VERA-RUIZ)

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