Mind the earthquake, not tsunami

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


DAGUPAN City residents should rest their minds, self assured that the city government has all preparations in place in case a tsunami occurs, and I underscore “in case.”

I say this because the tsunami scare in Dagupan has no scientific basis-in-fact at all! No current research and studies issued by Phivolcs indicate that Dagupan City will be hit by a tsunami on account of the presence of Manila Trench off Bolinao.

Only a minor Phivolcs official, who was invited as a “resource person” by the city’s consultant on environment during one of the executive committee meetings presided by Mayor Belen Fernandez, made the guess-timate that “8.5 magnitude earthquake emanating from the Manila Trench could generate from 7 to 8-meter high tsunami in Dagupan City. ”

Note that in April 2014, (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum was quoted reminding the public that Metro Manila and western Luzon has more than just the West Valley Fault to worry about.

Curiously, he said that if the Manila Trench shakes and causes a magnitude 8.2 earthquake, western Bataan (and Metro Manila) can expect a wave up to 10 meters tall (around 32 feet) within five to ten minutes. Did you note the copy-pasted yet exaggerated statement made in Dagupan?

Solidum added that tsunami could also hit Occidental Mindoro, Zambales, Batangas and Cavite within minutes, he said. He did not even remotely suggest that parts of Pangasinan or Dagupan City would be hit by a tsunami.

So where did all the tsunami-scare in Dagupan come from? I strongly suspect it was concocted to justify the operations of a “know-it-all” city consultant for environment of both Lim and Fernandez administrations.

Nonetheless the preparations have been made and let’s hope these will not be used at anytime, meaning, no tsunami as Phivolcs predicted!

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EARTHQUAKE, NOT TSUNAMI. What is predicted almost with certainty is the ‘Big One’, the earthquake that will hit La Union and Pangasinan big time!

I wonder what preparations have been made in Dagupan and other towns in this regard. 

Much can be learned from the impact of the 1990 earthquake: bridges collapsed, buildings and houses either crumbled or severely tilted to one side, trucks and homes were swallowed by liquefaction, water pipes got busted, electric posts were felled, food prices became scarce and expensive, etc.

Foremost concern of the city government should be the integrity of structural foundation of government buildings, school buildings/classrooms, public and private hospitals, two-storey and taller buildings, bridges, dams, dikes, etc. Are these strong enough to withstand an 8.2 magnitude? If not, what can be done?

Areas that are very vulnerable to liquefaction should already be identified and recommendations for safety measures should be made.

Barangays must be taught to organize and train fire brigades, taught security measures to guard against looting in the communities and organize emergency power stations to enable residents to charge their cellphones.

There should be far more serious concern about the impending Big One, than the tsunami that never was in the equation in the first place.

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WHO’S AFRAID OF GONZALES? Perhaps one of the most common aberration in Philippine governance, particularly in local governance, is the reluctance of incumbent officials to pursue and reopen unfinished investigation of anomalies uncovered in the past.

In Dagupan City, many cannot understand why the city council today even refuses to talk about the unfinished investigation of the land grabbing along Tondaligan Park, specifically in Bonuan Binloc. These were the subject of the series of expose during the term of then Mayor Al Fernandez through the term of Mayor Benjie Lim.

In that expose, it will be recalled that waivers issued and signed by Lim and then city administrator Vlad Mata in 2011 based on the certification of Barangay Pedro Gonzales for the installation of power in the areas illegally occupied in the barangay.

Of late, it was Binloc’s Gonzales who also gave P/Supt. Neil Miro the go-signal to occupy some 600 sq. meters ostensibly for a police outpost.  But wonder of all wonders, not one of the councilors seems to be interested to know why Gonzales is again in the middle of these land grabbing anomalies.

Why the reluctance of refusal to investigate what appears to be clearly another land grab racket in Dagupan? Who’s afraid of Gonzales?

Is this a job for City Legal Officer Vicky Cabrera?

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WRONG FOCUS? The dismal performance of Region 1, Pangasinan athletes in particular, in the last Palarong Pambansa should already serve as the nth wake-up call for the provincial government and the provincial DepEd officials.

Hence the question: What’s taking the Pangasinan Sports Academy, touted by both Guv Espinos (father-son) so long to establish?

Many have noted that Guv Pogi is very much into basketball as the core center of his sports program for the province. But since Pangasinan never really shone in basketball in the regional and national athletic meets, Guv should already consider shifting gears and focus on developing athletes in scientific running, jumping and swimming in the grass roots level, hopefully courtesy of the Sports Academy soon.

Mayor Belen Fernandez has proven that government support is vital in the development of young talents. The city’s team of swimmers earned gold medals in the Palaro, well-deserved payback for the city government’s focused support.

There is no reason for Pangasinan not to shine in sports because of its population. Surely, there are more than 50 young talented athletes who can be developed into champions, worth of emulation by our young.  One reason why many government sports programs are not succeeding is the absence of fair financial incentives being offered to talented athletes.

While Guv Pogi’s mindset on sports development is on the right track, I’m afraid his focus is off the mark. Making champion athletes can be a good legacy for him if he cares enough.

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CHR AS LP’s WEAPON. Many are wont to ask – Why is the Human Rights Commission Chairman Chito Gascon badgering the Duterte administration no end, like it is independent of the government, instead of helping to guide it to comply with UN’s human rights policies. Manila Times columnist Bobby Tiglao says he is the very first CHR chairman since the agency’s establishment in 1987 to have adopted an openly belligerent stance against an incumbent administration.

Well, here’s why: Mr. Gascon was the executive director of the Liberal Party’s think tank, the National Institute for Policy Studies, the director general of the Liberal Party from 2008 to 2011, and the political director of LP’s 2010 electoral campaign. He was one of PNoy’s man Friday, having been appointed a board member of the Bases Conversion Development Authority. As a political operator, he was one of the Liberal Party operators that plotted the breakaway from former President Gloria Arroyo of the Hyatt 10.

So wonder no more why the human rights issue in the country has been politicized, and used as a propaganda weapon against President Duterte. Tsk-tsk.

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