MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) yesterday urged provincial engineers in earthquake-hit Batanes to ensure that new structures in the province follow the building code.
Science Undersecretary and Phivolcs director Renato Solidum Jr. noted that most of the houses and buildings in Batanes were old and made of limestone, which can quickly disintegrate once they tremble.
“Local engineers should make sure that our fellow kabayans in Itbayat will follow the building code and use the right materials, so that the next time there are earthquake events, they are less vulnerable,” Solidum said in an interview with ANC.
“Structures that collapsed were made of limestone and are dissolvable by water so they easily weaken with time,” Solidum said.
Solidum noted the limestone structures in Batanes are known to withstand strong typhoons often crossing the island chain.
“Construction in that area is not good for earthquake events, they must now have understanding of what’s in the building code,” he added.
“My advice is for engineers to check that area before they (residents) are allowed to go back to their houses,” Solidum said.
He also warned residents against possible landslides.
“We also have to check the slopes of the mountainous areas if there were landslides,” noting that Itbayat has also been experiencing rains from time to time.
Former Batanes congressman Florencio Abad lamented that “many centuries-old lime and stone houses collapsed and need restoration.”
He expressed hope the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) will help in the restoration of the heritage structures.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, called on his fellow lawmakers to help in the immediate relief and rehabilitation efforts in Batanes.
“I am asking my colleagues in the House to help mobilize all resources needed in the aftermath of this tragedy. I was saddened to hear that lives were lost due to powerful quakes that rocked Batanes,” Romualdez said.
Eight people were killed and 60 others were injured after two earthquakes of magnitudes 5.9 and 5.4 hit Batanes early Saturday.
Romualdez said he had already coordinated with Batanes Rep. Ciriaco Gato to inquire how he and other congressmen can help in the relief and rehabilitation operations in the province.
“We already made available a private plane for Rep. Gato so he can fly immediately to his province to assess the situation on the ground. We expect an initial report from him the soonest time possible so we can help mobilize all the resources needed,” he said.
Read more: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/07/29/1938769/phivolcs-batanes-engineers-follow-building-code