3 of 5 – Metro Manila Earthquake Vulnerability Assessment

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“Fire vulnerable areas of Metro Manila are Valenzuela, Caloocan and south of Quezon City west intersection, but many other areas are highly vulnerable. Experts agree that earthquake damages and casualties in Metro Manila will be caused first and most directly by building collapse and secondarily by fires spreading from residential buildings.” -page 19

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“Even in non-chaos times, Metro Manila’s overall firefighting capabilities are abysmal and its Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) is facing major resource problems, including a severe shortage of fire trucks, fire stations and trained manpower. By international standards, the fire truck to population ratio should be approximately 1:28,000 and the firefighter to population ratio should be 1:2,000. Applying those standards to a population of about 11.94 million, Metro Manila’s underequipped and undermanned situation is glaringly evident.
“Metro Manila’s top fire hazard is the 36-hectare Pandacan oil storage depot. Approximately 15,000 people live immediately around the facility (mostly in congested shanties) and many schools, universities and government offices are located in the vicinity to include the Malacañang Presidential Palace.” -page 20

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PSA - Metro Manila Earthquake Vulnerability Assessment November 2014_Page_21 copy PSA - Metro Manila Earthquake Vulnerability Assessment November 2014_Page_22 copy * * *

“For both privately and publicly funded projects, many Philippine construction companies attempt to save money by circumventing and manipulating the building code compliance process and other critical provisions. Poorly paid government officials are more than willing to turn a blind eye to non-compliance with building codes and safety standards in exchange for a cash handout.
“Administrative interference, illegal awards of contracts or subcontracts of construction projects, disclosure of confidential project baseline price information to some companies prior to tendering and clients or government officers asking for money and/or in-kind payments from contractors are just some examples. In the private sector, this problem is considerably pervasive in lower grade buildings. PSA sources contend that corruption exists at nearly every stage of the building development process including procurement, materials purchasing, actual construction, commissioning, final cost settlement and evaluation of project quality at completion.” -page 23

PSA - Metro Manila Earthquake Vulnerability Assessment November 2014_Page_23 copy

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“Perhaps more disturbing is the prevalence of kickbacks in public works projects which frequently result in substandard construction of roads, bridges, schools and other public buildings. PSA sources claim that construction projects funded by the government lose as much as 40 percent of its budget as contractors shave off allocated funds for the project to pay of  government officials. Some PSA sources also contend that it is common practice among legislators to demand 20-30 percent kickbacks from contractors for projects funded by local government. Another 10 percent is lost to bureaucratic corruption in the LGU offices responsible for issuing construction clearances and building permits.” -page 24

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As funds are sapped by corruption, many public facilities are built with substandard construction materials, making them highly vulnerable to earthquakes. According to a recent study by US-based Columbia University, the Philippines has some 15.6 million school-age children in earthquake zones. The danger becomes more imminent as construction of most public school buildings are exposed to the same levels of corruption as in any nationwide public works project. Many of these structures have not undergone structural evaluation and vulnerability assessment to strong tremors. Public hospitals, government offices, roads, bridges and other public infrastructure suffer the same potentially fatal flaws.” -pages 24 to 25

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In the event of a destructive earthquake, the Philippine government will be besieged. PHIVOLCS authorities lament that despite the publication of the MMIERS seven years ago with more than 100 earthquake disaster management recommendations as well as assistance from various international organizations and foreign governments, the Philippine government has not mobilized to make the improvements to its disaster management system that are so desperately required.
“Statistics show the there are less than 250 hospitals in Metro Manila. This figure is grossly insufficient for the estimated number of casualties and injuries in the event of a massive earthquake.” -page 26

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“…the absence of a comprehensive fire hydrant network in Metro Manila. Since the state’s water distribution system in Metro Manila was privatized and split between Maynilad and Manila Water distribution firms in August 1997, fewer fire hydrants have been made available for BFP use. While Philippine law states that the BFP cannot be charged for the use of water, fire hydrant placement, maintenance and usage provisions were not vetted or approved during the privatization process.
Approximately 70 percent of the fire hydrants in Metro Manila reportedly have no water. To add complexity to the matter, many fire hydrants have been stolen for their bronze content.”  -page 27

PSA - Metro Manila Earthquake Vulnerability Assessment November 2014_Page_27 copy

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One Response to 3 of 5 – Metro Manila Earthquake Vulnerability Assessment

  1. Domingo G. Limeta says:


    Good Day Mr. Tulisanes,

    One of my colleagues in Los Angeles CA., (M.S. Geology) told me that “THERE IS NO PANACEA AGAINST EARTHQUAKES.”

    The best methodologies are awareness, preparedness, safety, and counter-measures “EARTHQUAKE SAFETY AND HAZARDS MITIGATION – EARTHQUAKE HAZARDS REDUCTION PROGRAM.”

    The ASCE “American Society Of Civil Engineers” emphasized the damaging effects of FIRE FOLLOWING EARTHQUAKE. Usually, the outcome aftermath of Major Earthquake is damages to man-made structures and large-scale metropolitan and industrial fires with some explosions.

    In Metropolitan Manila alone, there are so many business and commercial establishments, and industrial facilities who are storing and utilizing huge quantities of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for cooking, heating, and other applications, and also to include residential houses and condominiums who are also using LPG. There are various industrial facilities who are storing and utilizing Hydrogen Gas & Acetylene Gas.

    Now, these gases are classified as Hazardous being Explosive & Flammable. How many Petroleum Gas Stations who are storing huge quantities of liquid petroleum fuels.

    Many of the above mentioned establishments are not yet equipped or installed SEISMIC GAS SHUT-OFF VALVES (S.G.S.V.s), and Earthquake Actuated Automatic Shut-Off Valve Systems. Also, the highly-toxic liquids and gases should also be provided with Earthquake Actuated Automatic Shut-Off Valve Systems.

    So many establishments within Metropolitan Manila (commercial-industrial-to-include residential condominium) being located within Seismic Zone 4 (Peak Ground Acceleration of 0.40 g) approximately equivalent to Intensity VIII or higher in the Modified Mercalli Scale are in great risks. Their existing and operational Automatic Fire Sprinkler Piping Systems have no earthquake protection at all, such as Seismic Sway Bracing & Restraint Systems.

    In an event of FIRE FOLLOWING EARTHQUAKE, the Automatic Fire Sprinkler Piping Systems will function to suppress and control building fires and fires within various commercial / industrial facilities.

    The above safety methodologies are being stipulated by the applicable Building Model Codes & Standards, such as 2012 International Building Code (IBC), ASCE 7-10 Minimum Design Loads For Buildings & Other Structures, and the NFPA-13 Standard For The Installation Of Fire Sprinkler Systems.

    It is the intent of the NFPA-13 Standard that every Fire Sprinkler Systems / Fire Protection Systems be operational before, during, and aftermath of Major Earthquake.

    Who are the concerned people : Risk Insurers, Building Owners, Safety Engineers, Professional Design Engineers, Fire Marshals, Building Officials, Authority Having Jurisdictions, and of course the General Public.

    Example : The Fire Marshals and Building Officials will not allow any commercial / industrial establishment to operate who are storing huge quantities of LPG without EARTHQUAKE ACTUATED SHUT-OFF VALVE SYSTEMS & EARTHQUAKE BRACING & RESTRAINST for Fire Protection Piping Systems.

    Last January of this year (2015) I had a tele-conversation with a project engineer (Fire Protection Systems Contractor) and I have informed him the importance of Seismic Sway Bracing & Restraint Systems for Fire Protection Piping Systems. The reply was that, it is only additional costs.

    WHAT . . . . !? It is being stipulated by the 2010 NFPA-13 Standard Section 9.3 “Protection Of Piping Against Damage Where Subject To Earthquakes.” The Fire Code Of The Philippines has no seismic (earthquake) provisions for the Fire Protection Systems. The Fire Code Of The Philippines will prompt you – for earthquake, refer to the NFPA-13 Standard.

    So there it is, many are violating and circumventing the seismic provisions being stipulated by the applicable Building Model Codes & Standards.

    Lastly, of all Essential Facilities, all Hospitals & Health Care Facilities shall have a comprehensive Earthquake Hazards Protections & Mitigations. Hospitals & Health Care Facilities are the institutions that will accommodate human casualties aftermath of a Major Earthquake. These essential facilities as much as possible shall function aftermath of a Major Earthquake. If these essential facilities were also been damaged by Major Earthquake, these facilities will not able to fully function to accommodate human casualties due to destructive earthquakes.

    See the National Structural Code Of The Philippines to see what are other essential facilities should be protected against Major Earthquake.

    Thank you very much.

    Senior Seismic Engineering Consultant
    Nonstructural / Structural Hazards Mitigation
    Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program


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