MANILA - School buildings transected by the West Valley Fault should either be abandoned or completely demolished in case a massive earthquake hits the fault and causes untold destruction, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Friday.
Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr. said he has advised six schools not to use school buildings on top or within the buffer zone of the West Valley Fault.
"They need to transfer the kids...It's not that many. They need to discuss it with [the Department of Education] and school officials. Essentially, they are putting students at risk. To be fair, we don't know when the fault will move," Solidum said in an ANC interview.
"It's like gambling with their lives," he added.
Phivolcs recently launched a Valley Fault System Atlas, which has been distributed to local government units. The 100-kilometer West Valley Fault transects 42 barangays in Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa, and 30 barangays in Bulacan, Laguna and Cavite.
Phivolcs has identified six schools built near or on top of the West Valley Fault.
The six are:
1. Sitio Karahume Elementary School in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan
2. Barangka Elementary School in Marikina
3. Tibagan Elementary School in Makati
4. Anne-Claire Montessori in Taguig
5. Alabang Elementary School in Muntinlupa
6. E. Pedro Diaz High School in Muntinlupa
He said in Sitio Karahume Elementary School, the fault line runs between two buildings that are within the buffer zone. "They are not directly on top but they are within the buffer zone. They may be affected by the ground rupture or very strong shaking," he said.
Other affected school buildings are West Building of Barangka Elementary School, Easternmost Building in Tibagan Elementary School, the building including the basketball court of Anne-Claire Montessori, the building near Alabang Elementary School gate, and the Values Education and Admin buildings of E. Pedro Diaz High School.
"The affected schools must make sure they do not use the rooms for classes or offices. We have advised them not to. They can use this for storage spaces or strengthen the demolished part of the building if its's like a very long building. Demolish the part transected by the fault and reinforce the sides of the building which is away from the buffer zone or demolish the whole building totally," he said.
Solidum said some of the school buildings might have been constructed before news came out that the West Valley Fault remained active in the 1990s.
He also urged local government units to get information about possible fault lines where schools will be built.
The Phivolcs chief said coastal areas and western sections of Metro Manila may be more vulnerable during earthquakes. He said ground shaking during quakes will be amplified in these areas due to the layer of sediment.
Solidum said Kathmandu is also covered in sediment, noting the widespread damage in the Nepali capital.