Safety check for 6 schools near West Valley Fault ongoing

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Classes will still open in June for the 6 schools which government said has buildings that transect the West Valley Fault or are in the buffer zone.

But according to the education department, local engineers are already assessing the vulnerability of the schools' buildings.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum earlier warned the following schools to transfer their students so as not to put them at risk:

Solidum earlier advised that buildings in affected areas may be used as storage spaces, but must not be used for classes or offices as that would be tantamount to "gambling" with the lives of students and teachers.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro has reportedly directed Department of Education (DepEd) engineers to "confirm and validate" the structural integrity of the school buildings.

"Until this is done, the building will not be used for classes. We cannot take risks," Luistro said in a statement Monday, May 25.

During a press conference Monday, DepEd Assistant Secretary Jesus Mateo said there are talks of transferring the students and abandoning the school buildings, but nothing is final yet.

"'Yung tungkol sa usapin ng lupa, kailangan talaga tayong sumangguni sa lokal na pamahalaan kasi wala naman tayong ganung kalaking pondo na 'nilalaan para dun sa pagbili ng mga lupa," he explained.

(On the issue of land, we have to consult with the local government because we don't have a big amount allocated to buy land.)

For now, Mateo urged the 6 schools to comply with the school-based earthquake drills that should be conducted quarterly as per DepEd Order 48, s. 2012. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

"May polisiya tayo na dapat magkaroon sila ng earthquake drill every quarter, mas lalo na dito sa mga lugar at paaralan na tatamaan ng fault line," he said.

(We have a policy that schools should conduct an earthquake drill every quarter, especially in these area and schools near the fault line.)

A major earthquake could also happen in the Philippines once the West Valley Fault moves.

The fault, which traverses various parts of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, is expected to greatly affect the country since the region is not only highly populated, it also hosts the seat of government and the country’s business capital. – Rappler.com

Learn more about how you, your family, and your community can do to prepare:

A list of things to do to prepare when an earthquake strikes

A checklist to identify if your house is earthquake-resistant

A list of things your family can do to prepare for an earthquake

A 40-minute conversation with Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum and safety and disaster risk reduction advocate Martin Aguda on how the public should prepare for the "Big One"

Phivolcs director Renato Solidum talks about the different earthquake scenarios that can happen in Metro Manila

Magnifying glass image from Shutterstock

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

image