The West Valley Fault is 100 kilometers in length and traverses the cities of Metro Manila namely Taguig, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, and Marikina as well as nearby provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan. These places will suffer greatly when this fault move.

And when it did, it could generate a 7.2 magnitude earthquake causing great devastation of the most progressive portion of the Metro Manila. 

According to DOST - PHIVOLCS this fault moves every 200 – 400 years and the last time it did was in the year 1658, that was 359 years ago.

Now, the danger is very imminent and every time a province along the stretch of this fault was hit badly by strong ground tremors, the fear of losing life and property aggravate the clamor on when the big one will happen.  Fear and apprehension getting stronger particularly when tremors shook some parts of the country recently.  On May 25, 2017, San Marcelino, Pampanga shook at 5.4 magnitude earthquake.  This was also felt in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Bataan.

Given these, there is a need to make the people understand what these events are all about so they will be better informed and they can prepare more and fear less.

In July 1990, the Central Philippine Fault moved and caused the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that wreaked havoc across Luzon.  Baguio experienced the devastation that humbled almost everyone and seems made a realization: the fragility of the buildings that were built and how in a snap, human lives were snatched away.

In February 2006, after a 10-day continuous downpour, a minor movement of the same fault, a 2.6 magnitude earthquake tripped a saturated cliff of a ridge that caused a massive rock slide-debris avalanche burying the entire village of Guinsaugon, a township of St. Bernard in Southern Leyte.
More than a thousand death was recorded including the 247 children and 7 teachers who died when a school was entombed by the landslide.

While Metro Manila is said to be the most developed place in the country, it appears to be the most dangerous and uninhabitable city when a catastrophic earthquake strike.

Dr. Solidum during his plenary paper presentation in the DOST NRCP 17th Science Council of Asia Conference held last 14 – 16 June 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.

In one of the plenary presentations of the 17th Science Council of Asia Conference, hosted by the National Research Council of the Philippines or NRCP in June 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., DOST Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, said that when the West Valley Fault moved and generated a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, 34,000 people may die and will damage lifelines including water, infrastructure, roads, ports, and telecommunication.

The concentration of population in Metro Manila along with the various non-engineered and non-earthquake resilient infrastructures and buildings are causative factors.

There will also be a foreseeable chance that the whole country will undergo a state of economic paralysis as most government agencies and businesses are housed in buildings and infrastructures that overfilled the Metro Manila. These would mean a momentary hiatus in processes and transactions because of the most important economic arms are located in the Metro Manila.

Dr. Solidum is an active member of the NRCP Division of Earth and Space Sciences, which is mandated to conduct research studies on various natural phenomena to provide some scientific information clarifying the occurrences of these phenomena and their positive or negative impacts to human and the planet as a whole.

Scenarios based on science, engineering, and experience should be used to approach head on the mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery plans for the country in times of extreme disasters.

One of the components of the six (6) areas of basic research that will be prioritized by NRCP for 2017 - 2022 is on “all-systems risk modeling for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA).”  Research projects or programs along this field are expected to come up with a variety of innovative approaches addressing new and emerging issues on DRR and CCA.

This means that any research proposals that would provide innovative policies, novel methodologies minimizing casualties and damage to infrastructure when disaster hit, like an earthquake or any multi-disciplinary research that would offer new research-based information improving existing procedures of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery plans will be considered in the line-up of proposals for funding in the next five years.

The NRCP set its 5-year research priority plan in its National Integrated Basic Research Agenda or NIBRA.

NIBRA was crafted based on the visions of the Philippine Development Plan, the National Security Plan, and the Science for Change of the Department of Science and Technology.

DRR and CCA is a component of the Environmental and Anthropogenic Activities under the Sustainable Communities priority feature of NIBRA.  The other NIBRA research priorities include Water Security; Food and Nutrition; Health Sufficiency; Clean Energy; and Inclusive Nation Building.

As much as we need to invest in basic research or any other immediate solution and action for an earthquake, it is also necessary to also prioritize implementation of long-term plans for our country to suit situations involving disastrous phenomena.

Decongesting Metro Manila is definitely the plausible answer. Solidum emphasized that upgrading Clark International Airport in Pampanga into a major airport like the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, as well as utilizing ports in Batangas and Subic would help de-concentrate circulation in Metro Manila.