Public Works Secretary Mark Villar met with World Bank officials led by Artessa Saldivar-Sali last week to discuss  investments in the seismic reduction and resilience program of the department.

Science and Technology Undersecretary and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum presented scenarios and social, economic and other features of risk assessment as well as tools and methods helpful in planning resiliency programs.

Public Works Undersecretary Emil Sadain said preparedness could spell the difference between life and death and between property damage or catastrophic loss.

In anticipation of a movement of the West Valley fault, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has prepared an integrated department response, including the formation of an Earthquake Resilience Program Management Office that has called on all government agencies to ensure that measures and interventions for the resiliency of Metro Manila would remain the top priority.

DPWH will undertake inspection and assessment of structural conditions of public facilities and infrastructure in Metro Manila, which will require more planning and funding of related activities. DPWH expects the World Bank to provide technical assistance and expertise in package preparation of investments to support risk reduction in schools, hospitals, and government buildings, as well as the improvement of emergency preparedness and response capacity. The program is intended to strengthen the enforcement of building regulations and standards.

In a statement, the DPWH said it expected the World Bank to support the government program for earthquake resilience in Metro Manila.  Technical assistance has already been extended to DPWH in integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation measures in the building regulatory framework known as the National Building Code of the Philippines. (Melo M. Acuña)