Design of stone houses in quake-hit Batanes should be 'tweaked': VP Leni

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2019 05:33 PM

MANILA - Authorities should tweak the design of stone houses to be rebuilt in Batanes after they were destroyed by the series of quakes that struck on Saturday, Vice President Leni Robredo said. 

This comes after hundreds of structures crumbled with the shaking that severely affected Itbayat town, where houses were built to withstand the impact of typhoons that usually pass through the province. Saturday's temblors, however, proved the structures could not withstand quakes. 

The temblors destroyed houses and damaged schools, a hospital and a church, and left 9 dead and at least 100 hurt. The province is now under a state of calamity. 

Batanes' traditional Ivatan houses are a tourist attraction on the northern islands. Robredo noted that the houses lacked steel rods for structural support. 

The vice president urged authorities to look into the design of the buildings so a similar incident would not happen again. 

"Baka kailangan balikan na in preserving the stone houses, tingnan na kung paano niya mawi-withstand iyong ganito. Siguro kailangang i-tweak iyong design, iyong engineering design," Robredo told reporters Wednesday. 

(Maybe we should consider that in preserving the stone houses, look at how they could withstand (earthquakes). Maybe we should tweak the design, the engineering design.)

"Considering na nangyayari iyong mga ganito dito, kailangan na talagang balikan lahat. Nakita naman natin, eh: iyong lahat na schools dito sa Itbayat, iyong ospital, iyong simbahan—lahat talaga sira. So sana hindi makaligtaan na sa pag-rebuild, pag-restore, baguhin na iyong engineering design," she added. 

(Considering that this is now happening here, we should revisit everything. We saw it for ourselves: all schools here in Itbayat, the hospital, the church, all were damaged. So may we not forget that in rebuilding, restoring, we should change the engineering design.)

Data from the Department of Public Works and Highways showed that around 185 houses in Batanes collapsed, while 81 need repair, rehabilitation and retrofitting before they could be occupied. A total of 687 houses were, meanwhile, deemed safe for occupancy. 

Authorities estimate around P282 million in damages following the quake, which left 9 dead and around 100 injured. 

Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco earlier said houses destroyed will be rebuilt with steel and cement while retaining the traditional design.