By Mario Casayuran
Having witnessed the impact of the recent strong earthquake on infrastructures and buildings, Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘’Bong’’Go said on Friday that it was high time to amend the National Building Code (NBC) to ensure safety amid recurring natural disasters.
Go issued the statement after he and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of President Duterte, personally inspected Ecoland 4000, a condominium in Davao City that sustained heavy damage because of the 6.5-magnitude earthquake that hit Mindanao on Thursday morning, October 31.
The National Building Code was promulgated in 1977 when then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1096.
Go said he recognized that there may be a need to amend the law and update it according to the demands of the 21st century and with the increase in strength and frequency of natural calamities, such as earthquakes and typhoons.
Thursday’s quake was centered 27 kilometers northeast of Tulunan, Cotabato province, at a relatively shallow depth of 8 km, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
The temblor caused further devastation in areas where buildings and homes had been damaged by the previous temblors.
In Davao City, at least two levels of the posh five-story Ecoland 4000 Residences caved in, injuring nine people, including 61-year-old Korean Park Jung-o, according to the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
An undetermined number of residents were believed still trapped in the rubble.
The building has 56 rooms from the second to the fifth floors, but only 15 units were occupied at the time, said Police Capt. Nolan Tagsip, city police spokesperson.
Go reiterated his proposal for the establishment of a separate executive department focused on disaster resilience to serve as the lead agency for disaster response and preparedness of the government.
The senator earlier filed Senate Bill (SB) 205, known as the “Disaster Resilience Act of 2019”, an Act seeking to establish “an empowered, highly-specialized, and responsive Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) with clear unity of command.
Under the bill, the proposed department aims to provide faster government response to natural disasters and calamities, such as typhoons and earthquakes, by putting together all related agencies under a single department.
The bill also mandates local government units to build permanent and dedicated evacuation centers that are comfortable and complete with all necessary supplies needed by evacuees.
Go also said that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered concerned government agencies to ensure the safety and well-being of residents in affected areas.
Both felt the strong earthquake.
Go said he was having coffee at his apartment when the quake struck last Thursday morning.
The President was in the bathroom in his residence at the time.
Go was formerly the aide of then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte before successfully getting elected in 2019 to the 24-member Senate.