No hitches in Metro Manila ‘shake’ drill

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Local governments in Metro Manila pulled off the metropolis-wide earthquake drillwithout a hitch yesterday.

Josefina Faulan, eastern sector drill coordinator of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), said the “duck, cover and hold” exercise was smooth and orderly and participants conducted the drill appropriately.

“We’ve been preparing for almost a month for the shake drill here at the eastern sector. Our efforts paid off as the drills and exercises were successfully and smoothly laid out,” she said.

The sector is comprised of Marikina, Pasig and Rizal.

Drills at the western quadrant or sector were also successful as ambulances and fire trucks responded to the imagined crisis and military helicopters hovered to check the damage from the air.

Local executives also led participants in Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela, with people getting out of their homes, schools and offices after church bells and sirens were sounded off at exactly 10:30 a.m.

Disaster-related seminars were also conducted at the barangay level, including homeowners’ associations, to disseminate information on safety and preparedness during calamities.


The spirit of volunteerism, kept alive by hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, led to the success of the hour-long earthquake drill in Metro Manila yesterday, said Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

“The plan was successful. Assets from the government were deployed in other areas, and so many participated in the evacuation,” he said when asked to assess yesterday’s first ever metro-wide earthquake drill. 

“I’m proud to be a Filipino,” he said as he thanked the motorcycle riders’ groups, who helped in the “rescue” efforts, and the communication experts who extended assistance to government agencies in responding to the “victims.” 

Room to improve

Although described as generally successful, Solidum said some areas still need improvement after receiving reports that some people did not leave their building and some took the elevators on their way down.

He also wanted improvements on communication and information dissemination as a powerful quake could destroy communication and power lines. 

Phivolcs warned that the country is due for a major earthquake once the West Valley Fault, which traverses various parts of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, moves. 

The fault is capable of generating a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila, a scenario that may see 34,000 people killed and 114,000 injured.

In Pasay City, it took just 10 minutes to clear out all six floors of the Senate building after a power shutdown was simulated, with security personnel serving as marshals in guiding employees out of the building and into the covered court, which was designated as an evacuation center.

Since it was a Thursday, the senators were not around to participate in the drill, which includes scenarios on liquefaction and tsunami.

The drills done in Quezon City “still need a lot of things to be improved,” said city police chief Wilson delos Santos. He observed that some participants were not really prepared on what to do during earthquakes and recommended holding more exercises.

As a person who survived the 1990 Baguio killer quake, Delos Santos said drills should be taken seriously as it might keep them from getting harmed when a real quake strikes.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) also called on students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig to volunteer for the 143 program, which provides training for first responders to emergencies and calamities.

PRC chairman Richard Gordon said it would be to the school’s advantage if a set of students are trained in first aid and other basic life-saving procedures that can be done before medics or rescue teams arrive.

At the night drill at the Pasig central business district in Ortigas hours later, a scenario of several roads, including the busy Exchange Road and Jade Drive were completely closed to traffic from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. to give way to a simulated medical evacuation in five adjacent buildings in the business district. – Non Alquitran, Helen Flores, Marvin Sy, Robertzon Ramirez, Rey Galupo, Aie Balagtas See


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