To better prepare the office for an earthquake, the NEDA Regional Office (NRO) VIII staff joined the conduct of the 2nd Quarter Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill (NSED) on June 29, 2017. The activity was conducted in compliance to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Memorandum No. 76, Series of 2017, directing NDRRMC member agencies to spearhead the conduct of earthquake drill in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The NSED is part of the Bida ang Handa campaign of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to promote the conduct of regular exercises in preparation for disasters and calamities.

At exactly 02:00 o’clock in the afternoon, the office buzzer rang to simulate the event of an earthquake. The NRO VIII staff within the premises observed the “duck, cover, and hold” technique. Specifically, this would mean duck or drop down to the floor, take cover under a sturdy table or other furniture, and hold on to its posts. After the simulated event, the staff went outside to a designated holding area following a planned route of evacuation for each division. Accounting of each staff then followed.

It can be recalled that the last major earthquake event in the region was on August 31, 2012 with magnitude 7.6 ground shaking and a recorded epicentre in the Philippine Trench east of the southern tip of the Province of Eastern Samar . The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) issued then an alert on the possible tsunami wave and advised the residents in the coastal areas fronting the Pacific Ocean to immediately evacuate and move to higher grounds. However, no significant wave appeared and no damages were observed. PHIVOLCS lifted the alert after two hours. Nonetheless, the office’s participation in the NSED was considered essential in enhancing its preparedness for disasters, including earthquakes.

1 Beitzen, Moritz. 2013. Assessment of the Tsunami Alert: Eastern Samar and Leyte Islands. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Manila, Philippines

Jay-ar Ragub, PFPD, NEDA VIII