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Golf courses, South Cemetery tagged as post-earthquake evacuation sites 

Metro Manila's exclusive golf courses may have to be opened to the general public in the event of a major earthquake after government agencies identified them and at least one cemetery in Makati City as possible evacuation sites.

During the GMA News Online-I M Ready Earthquake Preparedness Forum on Friday, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said golf courses, a military airbase and an outdoor arena were included in the agency's earthquake contingency plan.

These are the Veterans Golf Course for the north, Villamor Airbase for Pasay and other south cities, Intramuros Golf Course for Manila and the CAMANAVA area, Wack Wack Golf Course for Mandaluyong City, and the ULTRA for Pasig City and the rest of the east.

The open spaces were chosen due to their proximity in hospitals where injured evacuees can be taken for treatment, Tolentino said.

The forum was organized in light of the recent release of the Valley Fault System (VFS) Atlas by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), which mapped the areas affected by earthquake faults in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

PHIVOLCS has previously warned about possible impending activity from the West Valley Fault.

PHIVOLCS director Renato Solidum said that in the absence of wide open spaces in such highly-developed areas as Makati City, Solidum pointed to cemeteries like the South Cemetery as temporary evacuation areas.

Open spaces are necessary for evacuation of people after an earthquake of significant magnitude as the stability of buildings and other structures may have been compromised.

Solidum said local government units should also identify possible evacuation sites in their respective areas.

"Ang open space dapat at least one and half times distansya sa tallest height ng structure para kung tumumba at sumabog, hindi siya makaapektuhan," Solidum said.

Quezon City, the largest city in Metro Manila, took the initiative to assign a specific open space per district, which includes UP Diliman, Amoranto Sports Complex, the SM Fairview Parking Area, and Centris Parking Area.

The Quezon City Memorial Circle, meanwhile, is named as the main evacuation site.

Less than five on a scale of 10

Tolentino said Metro Manila's earthquake readiness rated less than five on a scale of one to 10.

"Kung ige-grade ko ang kahandaan natin para sa isang lindol, siguro below five (out 10)," said Tolentino.

He added that the agency is working to increase its disaster response capability. "Sana up to seven (out of 10) magawa natin."

The VFS is composed of two segments: the East Valley Fault running through Rizal, and the West Valley Fault, running through Bulacan, Rizal, Metro Manila, Cavite, and Laguna.

The West Valley Fault could possibly generate a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, almost as strong as the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit Nepal last month, while the East Valley Fault could generate a magnitude 6.2 earthquake. -NB, GMA News