50-Year Old Building Code

On February 6, 2023, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria, followed by a 7.5 magnitude tremor that caused numerous aftershocks which directly affected 26 million people and resulted in 40,000 deaths to date within both countries.

Upon the investigation of Turkish authorities, it appeared that one of the causes of the large number of casualties in the said occurrence was the failure of some Turkish contractors to enforce their building regulations as recent structures failed to withstand an earthquake of such magnitude.

In 2022, the World Risk Report by Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) of Ruhr University Bochum showed that the Philippines is the highest disaster risk country in the world with a World Risk Index of 46.82.

There is a big probability, if not an absolute possibility, that an event of similar magnitude might happen to the Philippines on account of the country being located in the Pacific Ring of Fire together with Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, United States of America, Canada, Russia, Japan, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, New Zealand and Antarctica.

Based on the study conducted by Metro Manila Development Authority and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2004, many structures in the greater Manila Area would not be able to withstand the possible catastrophic destructions that can be brought by The Big One.

The current 50-year-old Building Code needs to be updated to help ensure the structural resiliency of establishments should a destructive earthquake – similar to the one in Turkey and Syria – hit Metro Manila and other provinces in the country.

In addition thereto, more evacuation areas are needed as the population and infrastructures within the National Capital Region (NCR) have multiplied in the past years, which would mean more casualties and greater extent of damage if a strong earthquake were to rock the nation’s capital.

There should also be a constant review of the electrical, structural, and foundational aspects of buildings and other structures both horizontal and vertical even after construction, especially in dense areas to further ensure the security and safety of each and every Filipinos if such a tragedy were to happen in the future.

Senator Francis Tolentino urged the appropriate Senate committee to conduct a thorough review of the present state of all our public and private buildings and other structures with the end in view of reviewing, revising and updating the antiquated National Building Code of the Philippines which was promulgated in 1977 by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, and other laws for the purpose of strengthening our building safety standards and ensuring that all our buildings and structures are all disaster resilient to meet any eventuality in the future.

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