In the wake of the earthquake that rocked Metro Manila and other parts of the country on Monday, Quezon City Rep. Winnie Castelo renewed his call for an organized and comprehensive audit of all government and private buildings to assess and ensure their structural integrity.
“Doing so at the soonest possible time will prevent loss of lives and limbs,” Castelo, Chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development said.
Castelo urged all government agencies concerned such as the Metro Manila Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to act collectively on the matter.
“It is imperative that we immediately determine which buildings in our midst are in danger of falling when we’re hit by an earthquake because they are definitely places of deadly accidents waiting to happen,” Castelo said.
“It is imperative that we immediately determine which buildings in our midst are in danger of falling when we’re hit by an earthquake.”
Last year, Castelo filed a joint resolution seeking to create two bodies – one to perform an initial inventory and audit of government buildings and other infrastructure and another to assess their structural integrity.
Castelo said the first team will be composed of auditors from the Commission on Audit, a representative from the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a member of Congress, engineers from government agencies with infrastructure projects and the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), a representative from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. “The team’s task is to audit and evaluate all infrastructure contracts, bidding processes for each, and actual project implementation – with priority projects in the last 20 years,” Castelo said.
“It will look for any irregularities that could signal graft and corruption and potential substandard construction,” Castelo explained.
“Any irregularity in whatever stage of the project should be deemed a “red flag” that could mean the construction may have been below standard and therefore the structural integrity may have been compromised,” Castelo said.
After the first team has come up with its audit, the second team – composed of structural engineers and other construction experts – will then conduct an assessment of the structural integrity of the building or other infrastructure that have been flagged by audit team. The structural assessment team shall be composed of engineers form government agencies with infrastructure project and the associations of mechanical and electrical engineers.
While the first team is doing the audit, the structural-assessment team shall also assess the structural integrity of the infrastructure older than 25 years. “Both teams shall also give priority to infrastructures along or close to fault lines,” Castelo said.
He said buildings deemed as structurally unsound should immediately undergo retrofitting.
“Congress can make an emergency special appropriation if necessary,” Castelo said, stressing that “We must act now before the feared ‘big one’ happens,”
“We must act now before the feared ‘big one’ happens.”
For private infrastructures, Castelo called on local governments to strictly enforce their building inspection policies.