December 5, 2023
EARTHQUAKE SAFETY DRILL — Thousands of students and faculty members of the University of Baguio took part in the first quarter nationwide simultaneous earthquake drill at 2 p.m. on March 9 as a means of training the community on what to do during an earthquake. The activity, spearheaded by the Office of the Civil Defense-Cordillera and host school UB, is the first in-person drill to be conducted after the pandemic. — Ofelia Empian

The public is reminded to be ready for any disaster especially with earthquakes as the Cordillera took part in the nationwide simultaneous earthquake drill (NSED) on March 9.
During the first quarter NSED program held at the University of Baguio, Office of the Civil Defense-Cordillera Operations Officer Frankie Cortez said being proactive even without the threat of earthquake is the key to minimizing damage in case a disaster strikes.
Cortez said the public must regularly conduct earthquake drills including “hazard hunts” or identifying vulnerable areas in one’s home or establishment and mitigate it.
Once the hazards are identified, a plan has to be created to make sure the existing risks would be addressed. Establishments must also work with local government units and other stakeholders as earthquakes would affect the whole community.
Also, each residence and establishment must prepare its own disaster kits that contain emergency aid like medicines, important documents secured in a bag, emergency food that could be stored for a long time, flashlights, candles, radio communication, among other essentials.
Cortez said the public can also use the “hazard hunter PH”, an assessment tool developed by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology that can be used to generate indicative hazard assessment reports on the user’s specified location.
It is also helpful as a reference for property owners, buyers, land developers, and planners needing immediate hazard information and assessment. 
In the case of an earthquake, the public should practice the duck, cover and hold, the drill which is conducted simultaneously nationwide every quarter of the year. 
Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Chief and OCD-CAR Director Albert Mogol said the country, which is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, records at least 20 earthquakes per day and four to five earthquakes per week with a magnitude ranging from 1.5 to 2.9.
“We need to conduct similar activities like NSED to test our existing plans and improve such plans according to the risks posed so that we can mitigate its effects and save lives,” Mogol said.
Mogol said UB is the pilot school for the regional program where 6,000 students and personnel took part in the drill. After the earthquake drill, the members of the CDRRMC evaluated the evacuation program of the university. 
UB Vice President for Administration Rommel Ayson said the assessment of the CDRRMC would be helpful for the university to restart its evacuation procedure after three years of no in-person classes due to the pandemic.
“The earthquake drill is more than a requirement, we need to take these simultaneous drills seriously,” Ayson said. – Ofelia C. Empian