He said in a forum here yesterday that old churches are prone to serious damage and endanger the safety of churchgoers in case of strong earthquakes because of lack of steel support.
Russell Palma
Chief government geologist urges repair of heritage churches
Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) - April 27, 2019 - 12:00am

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines — Arthur Daag, chief of the geology division of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), yesterday urged Catholic church authorities to consider retrofitting heritage churches in the country for the safety of churchgoers in case of an earthquake.

He said in a forum here yesterday that old churches are prone to serious damage and endanger the safety of churchgoers in case of strong earthquakes because of lack of steel support.

In Pampanga, 24 churches were closed pending inspection by structural engineers after some of them sustained significant damage from the magnitude 6.1 earthquake last Monday.

Daag said retroffiting the churches can be done as was found out in a study made after heritage churches were also damaged by a magnitude 7.2 tremor that hit Bohol, Cebu and parts of Mindanao in October 2013.

Retrofitting refers to the addition of new technology or features to older systems to make them stronger.

A report on the study of “retrofit procedures” for the affected churches in Bohol and Cebu indicated that the unreinforced masonry of the churches could be done for those partially damaged. The study was done by the EM2A Partners & Co. based in Quezon City.

Following last Monday’s earthquake that led to the temporary closure of 24 heritage churches in Pampanga, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has suggested government support for the rehabilitation of the churches.

NHCP chairman Rene Escalante asked Malacañang to allocate calamity funds to repair the damaged churches, saying that in case of lack of funds, the needed budget could be included in the General Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2020.

He asked the Archdiocese of San Fernando, whose engineers are still assessing the damage to local heritage churches, to provide the NHCP with the estimate for funding requirements for consideration of the Department of Budget and Management.

Daag also said that some coastal towns in Pampanga are prone to liquefaction, which was observed in Lubao, Pampanga during last Monday’s earthquake. Liquefaction is an event in which soil becomes saturated due to some stress and behaves like liquid.

He said some parts of Clark Freeport could also be prone to liquefaction, depending on how shallow they are to underground water tables.

ARTHUR DAAG HERITAGE CHURCHES
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