City of Manila’s disaster resilience a ‘total failure’ – Mayor discovers

Marje Pelayo   •   July 3, 2019   •   3235

MANILA, Philippines – Newly-elected mayor Francisco Domagoso admits they are not ready in case a strong earthquake or the so called ‘Big One’ strikes the city.

“The City of Manila is not ready. On record. Sila ang may sabi noon, (That’s what they said),” Domagoso said referring to the local disaster risk reduction management officials following a meeting with them on his second day in office on Tuesday (July 2).

Mayor ‘Isko’ ordered the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) to draft a concrete disaster management plan or a detailed hazard map to prepare the city for potential dangers.

During the meeting, Domagoso discovered a lot of problems in terms of the city’s disaster preparedness and response.

The city lacks plans and programs for risk reduction management.

There are no measures in place to solve the decade long flood problems.

The city’s disaster response command center lacks equipment, the office looks shabby and neglected.

The CCTV cameras only cover areas within the city hall and Carriedo area.

Emergency personnel admitted they have no established emergency hotline and they usually use their personal numbers to contact the public in times of need.

The CDRRMO also lacks personnel and the city falls short in resources when it comes to health care.

According to the overall assessment report of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the city is considered a ‘total failure’ when it comes to disaster preparedness and response.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) noted the importance of prioritizing disaster resiliency in all of Manila especially its buildings and structures as it is a city prone to hazards.

“The biggest stumbling block would be the resilience of the structures. Iyon ang pinakaunang kailangang gawin. Ayusin ang mga pwedeng bumagsak na mga bahay (That’s the very first thing that needs to be addressed – fix the houses that are damage prone),” explained DOST Undersecretary and PHIVOLCS administrator Renato Solidum.

“Marami silang (There’s a lot of) hazards that need to be integrated in their preparedness,” he noted.

Mayor Domagoso warned to dismiss all concerned DRRMO officials if they will not act on the matter at the soonest possible time.

“I will fire you if you don’t admit that we are not ready,” Mayor Domagoso told them.

“You have to be honest with yourself. You can even challenge me at the Civil Service (Commission) if I fire you,” he concluded. – with reports from April Cenedoza

Several evacuees in Batangas City evacuation center decide to stay despite clearance from LGU

Maris Federez   •   January 28, 2020

Evacuees in the 12 towns of Batangas have started to return to their homes after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) lowered the alert level of the Taal Volcano from 4 to 3.

Several evacuees in Batangas City, however, opted to stay behind for fear of a major explosion of Taal.

Lilibeth Arajo, a resident from the town of Taal who is now in an evacuation in Batangas City, said they are still awaiting the final decision of the authorities to really be sure that it is indeed safe to go home.

She added that their house is on the outskirts of Taal and transportation is not easily accessible.

Another evacuee said it is not yet certain that there will be immediate livelihood or source of income for them should they go home now. — (with details from Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

Manila Health Dep’t. says rumored novel coronavirus case just pneumonia

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila City government on Monday, January 27, denied rumors spreading online about a case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) said there is no confirmed case of the 2019-nCoV involving a Chinese national who was admitted at the Metropolitan Hospital in Binondo.

Manila City Health Officer Dr. Arnold Pangan identified the Chinese national as a 27-year old male who was working at a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO).

Pangan said the Chinese man was hospitalized last January 25, 2020, due to fever and cough. The City Health Officer said the foreigner reportedly resides on the boundary of Pasay and Paranaque Cities.

“Case is a 27-year old male, arrived in the Philippines as POGO worker last January 8, 2020. He is from Obei, China,” Pangan said in his report to the Office of the Mayor.

“MHD Surveillance Team, in coordination with DOH surveillance, and as per investigation, patient has fever and cough but negative on the history of travel to Wuhan, China, and no history of exposure to a host or positive case,” he stressed.

Pangan said the Chinese national was diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia.

“As of the moment, the patient is well and does not have fever,” he said.

“The MHD is in a continuous effort of intensive information dissemination in our public schools and respective barangays regarding precautions on stopping transmission of coronavirus,” he added.

The Manila PIO said “the coronavirus scare on social media has apparently compelled the following schools in the nation’s capital to suspend classes” for Monday.

  • Philippine Academy of Sakya
  • Saint Stephen’s High School
  • Saint Jude Catholic School
  • Chiang Kai Shek College – Padre Algue and Narra branches
  • Uno High School

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso appealed to the public to avoid sharing unverified information on social media to prevent panic or anxiety among the public over the virus spreading internationally.

“Hindi ikinikibit-balikat ang sitwasyong ito. Be vigilant. Huwag kayong maiilang. Huwag muna masyadong mag-alala. Tayo po ay makinig sa mga lathalain, panawagan ng mga tamang tao at ahensya ng gobyerno,” he said.

Mayor Isko also encouraged all citizens to immediately proceed to the nearest clinic or health center if they feel they are suffering from symptoms of the virus, which include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

“Ngayon naman, sa lahat ng ating mga barangay, nakikisuyo ang ating MHD na kayo’y makipagtulungan by just being vigilant. Kayo rin, tayong lahat, huwag kayong matatakot kapag kayo ay may ubo. Mas maganda magpagamot at magpa-check up,” he said.

The national Department of Health (DOH) has said there is still no confirmed case yet of 2019-nCoV in the Philippines although it is monitoring at least 11 individuals for a suspected respiratory infection. These patients under investigation have been recorded in different hospitals in Muntinlupa and Pasay Cities in Metro Manila, Kalibo in Aklan, El Nido in Palawan, Cebu City, and Camiguin, based on DOH’s data.

Based on the latest report of China’s National Health Commission, the death toll from the novel coronavirus strain has spiked to 80 on Monday with hundreds of new infections despite massive travel lockdown and quarantines in China.

The virus was first detected in the Chinese City of Wuhan and has since spread to neighboring towns and other countries. Confirmed 2019-nCoV cases have been reported as far as the United States, Canada, France, Australia, Nepal, as well as in Asian cities of Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Thick, white steam from Taal means volcanic materials are rising — PHIVOLCS

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Taal Volcano spewed anew a tall column of thick, white steam early Friday morning (January 24).

Experts from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) explained that the white steam-laden plumes of about 500 meters high that drifted towards the southwest direction signify that the heating up of volcanic materials underneath the crater has intensified.

In a press briefing, Volcano Monitoring Chief Ma. Antonia Bornas explained that the thick steam means that excessively hot volcanic materials are rising, causing the water to boil.

Mayroon po kasi tayo talagang magma na umaakyat at ito po talaga ang binabantayan natin (The magma is still moving up and this is what we are monitoring at present),” Bornas said.

Iyong steam ito po ay mula sa ground water or sa tubig ng lawa na sumisipsip sa ilalim ng lupa nung nagkaroon tayo ng fissuring at ito po ay nalilikha sa ibabaw ng magma dahil napakainit po nito at ibinubuga iyong steam (The thick steam came from ground water or the lake water that is drying up in the event of fissuring. There is evaporation going on top of the very hot magma thus steam is produced),” she added.

Bornas also noted the increase in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission from 144 tons per day on Thursday (January 23) to an average of 224 tons per day on Friday.

Still, PHIVOLCS stressed that the high frequency of volcanic tremors indicates that the magma is continuously rising and may still result to an eruptive explosion.

Based on PHIVOLCS monitoring, Taal Volcano has generated 486 volcanic earthquakes including four low-frequency earthquakes.

The agency said Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano which means a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.

PHIVOLCS reiterates that forced evacuation of Taal Volcano island remains necessary as well as other identified high-risk areas where fissures are being observed.

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