Local government units (LGUs) are given 90-days to submit their structural assessment report to the DILG and the DPWH or risk facing sanctions according to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año in a press conference yesterday.
Año said that LGUs are expected to submit to the DILG and DPWH their rapid structural assessment of buildings and infrastructures "as part of the effort to fortify buildings and establishments in anticipation of a massive earthquake like the Big One."
"The safety of the people is paramount. Kaya naman we direct LGUs to produce and submit to the DILG and DPWH comprehensive structural assessment of buildings and establishments in 90 days starting today, February 26, 2020," Año said.
"We will never know when the Big One will hit us, kaya dapat natin itong paghandaan," he added.
LGUs are also directed, Año said, to submit action plans to respond to the assessment's findings, and emphasized that non-compliance to the 90-day deadline may not readily lead to sanctions but in the eventuality that subpar buildings collapse and cause injuries or fatalities, administrative or criminal cases will be filed against them.
"We will not automatically file cases to the non-compliant LGUs. Pero magkakaroon ng kaso kapag mayroon ng damage to properties at loss of lives dahil sa negligence ng LGU," he explained.
Año said that the 90-day deadline will set the timeline for the LGUs to fast-track the assessment process. He said this deadline reinforces the DILG-DTI-DPWH Joint Memorandum Circular 2019-01 which was issued last October 2019.
According to the said memorandum, provincial, city and municipal LGUs are directed to assess the structural integrity of all public and private buildings, facilities, and infrastructure as to their conformance with the standards of the National Building Code of the Philippines and requirements of disaster resilience founded on a science-based approach to hazard and risk assessment.
"Binibigyan lang natin sila ng timeframe para mapabilis ang essessment nila. From these assessments, we can now evaluate. We will ensure that the LGUs will comply," he said.
LGUs at the helm
Año said that LGUs, being the arm of the government in the locality, must be at the helm of the implementation of the JMC 2019-01 for "strict compliance to the policy can save lives."
According to the said memorandum, LGUs must not only develop but also implement action plans with specific timelines to address infrastructure assessment findings and ensure the structural integrity of critical infrastructures.
LGUs are also urged to collaborate with business and civil society sectors and the communities for all necessary disaster resilience measures, and enforce resilient building standards through streamlined and strengthened building permit procedures and enhanced standards of construction materials.
The DILG Chief further said that the JMC emphasizes the Greater Metro Manila Area or GMMA comprised of Metro Manila, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Batangas, and Quezon shall undertake all DRR measures for earthquake resiliency.
"Mahalaga ang pangunguna ng mga LGU sa iba't ibang DRR measures para sa lindol. This is the essence of this JMC and the earthquake drills, para mas maging handa at lumawak ang partisipasyon ng mga mamamayan," he said.