30% of buildings in downtown Bacolod ‘unstable’

ABOUT 30 percent of commercial buildings in downtown Bacolod are not stable enough to withstand strong seismic activities.

Executive Assistant Jose Maria Vargas, cluster head for City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said Wednesday the buildings 15 years old and above at the downtown area would suffer major cracks in case of possible earthquake scenario.

The CDRRMO had already made an assessment in various areas, he added.
Vargas said four years ago, they sent notices to building owners to make an advance building repair as soon as possible, but the improvements did not materialize.

He said they informed the Office of the Building Official (OBO) that several buildings at the downtown area could be a problem.

“It is one of the most problematic areas in case of possible earthquake,” Vargas added.

Last week, several buildings in Surigao City were damaged by a strong earthquake.

Vargas said the newly-constructed buildings have passed the Building Code and are safe.

He pointed out that Bacolod City is one of the safest areas in Negros Island Region because the city is not situated in the island’s five fault lines.

Vargas said they have trained personnel to handle the rapid earthquake damage assessment system and all of them are ready to be deployed to make an assessment to determine if the building is dangerous for the public.

The CDRRMO also conducted lectures and earthquake drills in various schools, he added.

With the country being vulnerable to earthquakes, officials have been calling for Filipinos to develop a culture of safety and preparedness to prevent natural hazards, such as earthquakes, from turning into disasters.

Authorities have pushed for a regular evaluation and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure to ensure that buildings, bridges and other similar structures can withstand strong earthquakes.

Local government units, including barangay officials, are also urged to determine open spaces for safe refuge when earthquakes occur and craft evacuation plans that would help the people find out the fastest and safest way to reach open spaces and other safe areas.

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