Monday, March 12, 2012

Soldiers in Balikatan to simulate disaster response

MANILA, Philippines - Soldiers in the Balikatan exercises next month will simulate disaster response measures should an earthquake similar to that which ravaged Japan last year hit the Philippines.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said participating Filipino and US troops would focus on an earthquake originating from the West Valley Fault and its possible impact.

“The humanitarian assistance and disaster response command post exercise that will be held in National Capital Region Command in Camp Aguinaldo will simulate and plan to address the devastation of a magnitude 8.1 earthquake,” he said.  

The West Valley Fault starts from the Sierra Madre and runs through Bulacan, Rodriguez, Rizal, Quezon City, the eastern side of Metro Manila including Pasig, Taguig, Muntinlupa, San Pedro and Sta. Rosa in Laguna and ends in Carmona, Cavite.

State scientists have claimed that the fault can cause a magnitude 7.2 earthquake and “is ripe for another major movement.”

Japan, which experienced a magnitude 8.9 quake that claimed thousands of lives last year, will send two observers during the exercise.

Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam will also send representatives for the activity.

The Philippines is vulnerable to earthquakes due to its close proximity to the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

Burgos said the exercise aims to test the current disaster response plans of the AFP and other state agencies.

“The activity seeks to identify gaps and solutions from previous disaster situations that occurred recently in the Philippines and anticipated future calamities,” he said.

State agencies and groups who will join the activity are the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Office of Civil Defense, United States Agency for International Development, United States Pacific Command, United Nations Country Team, United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Food Program, International Federation of the Red Cross and the Philippine Red Cross.

Alexis Romero | The Philippine Star | March 12,2012 | Article Link