THE recent earthquakes that hit Central Luzon, Metro Manila and Visayas, the power of which was felt as far as Bicol region has prompted Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde to order a technical inspection and assessment of all police buildings and other facilities affected by the series of tremors.
Last week, the PNP chief directed PNP Engineering Service director, Brigadier General Elmer C. Cabreros, to ask his engineers to check the damages, if there are any, in affected regions and recommend corrective measures.
This means that PNP engineers will have to determine their buildings’ structural integrity, safety, and fitness for use by PNP personnel and the public availing of daily police services.
Buildings and other facilities in Camp Crame, the PNP national headquarters are not exempted from the PNP-ES inspection since many of them were built during the heydays of the now defunct Philippine Constabulary in the 70s.
Except for its façade and other facelift and new office constructions, the PNP-NHQ remains the same old PC-INP building which has been tested by earthquakes including the deadly earthquake on July 16, 1990 which produced an estimated magnitude of 7.7 and produced a 125 km-long ground rupture that stretched from Dingalan, Aurora to Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija.
The 1990 earthquake left over 1,600 people dead and also shook different offices and buildings in Camp Crame.
Likewise, Gen. Albayalde emphasized the physical security of all PNP-run jails and other detention facilities and ensure that no suspects under custody will be able to escape in case of an earthquake.
The order calls for an inspection of all police stations and headquarters in the National Capital Region and Central Luzon with temporary detention facilities since there will always be the possibility that once the earth starts to shake, police facilities and their jails will also be in danger of being crushed.
During the infamous Mt. Pinatubo eruption on June 15, 1991 which has been considered as the 2nd-largest volcanic eruption in the 19th century, veteran police officials assigned in some parts of Central Luzon said they have no recourse but to let prisoners out of their cells after rainwater cascaded from the mountain and threatened to drown the inmates.
Wary of the so-called ‘Big One’ and the two strong earthquakes which shook Luzon and Visayas regions and placed the structural integrity of buildings under the spotlight, Cabreros assured that they already have a major resolve to build not only graft-free structures but those that can withstand the devastating power of nature.
Cabreros told the Journal Group that they see to it that police buildings and other facilities they have constructed can withstand the test of time knowing their lives and career are in jeopardy in the event these structures turn out to be below government standard.