The Philippines and Japan once again are teaming up in an effort to teach earthquake emergency quick response to Filipino engineers. A total of 80 Filipino engineers will be joining the training program which is set to commence this week.
The program, which is a joint initiative of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will focus on standard operating procedures in times of emergency, disaster mitigation and preparedness, and evaluation and inspection of vulnerable buildings and other structures.
DPWH Undersecretary Maria Catalina Cabral supported the undertaking as it would further enhance the knowledge of experts in responding to natural disasters particularly earthquake.
“The JICA training will help boost the confidence of local engineers in making quick assessments and evaluation post-earthquake,” she said in a statement.
“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 DPWH official added.
For his part, JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito noted that the holding of the training program is very timely since the country has experienced recent earthquakes in southern Philippines and some parts of Luzon affecting key infrastructure and roads.
“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,” he said.
Ito added, “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 ofearthquakes.”
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 andother measures,” the JICA official said.
Likewise, the JICA-DPWH-PICE development cooperation will create a post-disaster quick inspection manual for local engineers.
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.
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.