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Panel assessing buildings’ structural integrity proposed

By: Ben R. Rosario

The chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development is pushing the creation of a special body that would assess the structural integrity of government buildings and other public infrastructure following the magnitude-6.5 earthquake that hit Eastern Visayas last week.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said the earthquake makes it mandatory for government to ascertain public readiness for the possible occurrence of a similar or higher intensity tremor.

Castelo urged President Duterte to create a Public Infrastructure Assessment Commission that would conduct a thorough assessment of the structural integrity of all public buildings and infrastructure, saying that this has become necessary as the country prepares for “the Big One.”

“The series of earthquakes we have been experiencing had shown that some government buildings and public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, airports, ports, and school buildings, are not structurally sound to withstand a 7.2-magnitude earthquake,” Castelo noted.

The senior administration lawmaker stressed that the commission should have the expertise of determining which government buildings and infrastructure require immediate repair or retrofitting before a strong earthquake could damage or even flatten the structures.

Castelo said the destruction of structures could lead to serious injuries or numerous deaths.

In his proposal, Castelo said the commission should be staffed with structural engineers and other experts from both government and the private sector.

“It’s not enough that we educate our people about earthquake readiness and prepare them by conducting regular drills,” Castelo said.

“More than anything, we have to ensure the structural integrity and soundness of government buildings, particularly those occupied by emergency responders such as the police, armed forces, fire services, medical personnel, and other emergency responders,” he added.