MANILA - City dwellers were advised to brace not only for mock quakes, but also for heavy congestion over the weekend as the government implements the third Metro Manila shake drill.
Since 2015, at least 17 cities in Metro Manila and nearby areas have been conducting annual earthquake drills in preparation for "The Big One," a huge quake that may originate from the West Valley fault that stretches from Aurora to Laguna.
But unlike the first two metro-wide shake drills, the exercise this year will be "real-time," Celine Pialago, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority spokesperson, said in an interview with ABS-CBN.
Here's what to expect during the third shake drill that will start at around 4 p.m. Friday.
1) HEAVY TRAFFIC
If you plan to ply along EDSA this afternoon, pack a lot of gas and patience as authorities already expect bumper-to-bumper situations both on the north and south bound lanes as firetrucks, ambulance, and other emergency vehicles rush to respond to supposed quake victims.
"Dati, pagkatunog ng bell wala pang tatlong minuto nandun na yung mga responders. Ngayon, walang prepositioned units. Kung saan mismo magmumula (fire station, hospital, police station), doon magsisimula ang takbo ng responders," Ritchie Van Angeles, Pasig City's disaster office chief, said.
Pialago said rerouting schemes were not drawn out this year as the government seeks to evaluate "time, motion, and contigency plans of different sectors especially those in the barangay level."
2) POWER AND SIGNAL INTERRUPTIONS
After the drill alarm sounds off, electricity and phone signals in the metro will be cut-off for 45 seconds, the MMDA said.
Mobile network providers have been sending text messages to their subscribers to notify about the temporary halt in services in compliance with the government's shake drill.
3) SUSPENSION OF MRT, LRT OPERATIONS
The Metro Rail Transit and the Light Rail Transit will temporarily suspend operations alongside the power and signal interruptions.
Train services are expected to return to normal barely a minute after the sound of the alarm.
Authorities admit that the minute-long simulation of a 7.2-magnitude quake may cause inconvenience, but asked for the public's understanding and support as the government thoroughly prepares for possible disaster scenarios.
"Hindi namin ikakaila na magdudulot ng mabigat na trapiko pero ito ay para naman sa kapakanan ng lahat," Pialago said.