June 19, 2017
In light of the earthquakes in southern Philippines and some parts of Luzon this year affecting key infrastructure and roads, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Department of Public Works and Highways and Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) have teamed up to train Filipino engineers on earthquake emergency quick response.
"The Philippine experience in recent earthquakes showed that there's a need to build the capacity of local engineers to conduct quick inspection and evaluation of vital infrastructures after the earthquake," said JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito. "The partnership of JICA, DPWH, and PICE aims to establish an emergency quick response program in the Philippines to ensure business continuity and minimal disruption of public services in the aftermath of earthquakes."
This week, 80 Filipino engineers are joining said training program focusing on standard operating procedures in times of emergency, disaster mitigation and preparedness, and evaluation and inspection of vulnerable buildings and other structures.
Early this year, Surigao del Norte was placed under state of calamity after the city's buildings, shopping malls, and a hotel were damaged following a 6.7 magnitude earthquake.
"As partner and friend of the Philippines, we'll continue to support the country's efforts to build its disaster resiliency as we have done in the past decades. We aim to continue sharing Japan's experience and knowledge on disaster management through capacity building programs and other measures," added Ito.
It can be recalled that Japan's strict building codes and proven hard and soft measures against disasters helped save lives and lessen the damage during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. They have gone further to implement massive public education program against disasters and seismic designs in their public infrastructure.
DPWH Undersecretary Maria Catalina Cabral said, "The JICA training will help boost the confidence of local engineers in making quick assessments and evaluation post-earthquake. Introducing a simple mechanism to them such as an easy to understand checklist or manual will be useful for engineers on the ground to make post-earthquake assessments."
The JICA-DPWH-PICE development cooperation will also create a post-disaster quick inspection manual for local engineers.
In 2014, JICA assisted the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) in creating a self-check earthquake safety questionnaire guide for Filipino homeowners to assess the earthquake readiness of their houses. The checklist is based on the Philippines' National Building Code and Structural Code.
Since the 1960s, JICA has been helping the Philippines enhance its disaster resiliency efforts through capacity building of frontline disaster management agencies and building socio-economic infrastructure such as river improvement and dikes among others.