DAVAO CITY — High-rise buildings have been mushrooming here in recent years, mostly condominiums and some business centers, and the uptrend is expected to continue with the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) receiving 40 permit applications in 2018 alone.

The city government welcomes this development and encourages more residential tower projects as it anticipates continued urban migration.

But are these buildings appropriately designed for earthquake hazards?

Department of Science and Technology (DoST) Undersecretary Renato U. Solidum Jr., also the officer-in-charge of the of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), said the Davao Region, including the city, has several fault lines that makes it susceptible to earthquakes.

“If we talk about hazards, Davao Region is susceptible… there are many faults within Davao City and towards the southwestern side of the city. Towards the east there are many branches of faults, those also are considered as source of earthquake,” he said last week during the launching of the Metro Davao Site Response Atlas.

The atlas provides maps and information on the Vs30 model that can be used by engineers for designing buildings in consideration of ground motion, among other factors.

It covers Metro Davao, which spans from Digos City in Davao del Sur to Tagum City in Davao del Norte, including the Island Garden City of Samal.

It is part of the DoST’s project on Specific Earthquake Ground Motion Levels to Help Increase the Seismic Resiliency of Residential and Medium-to-High Rise Buildings in Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, which is funded by the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEETRD).

“We wanted to provide information on hazards to the different stakeholders. This is really specific to buildings especially for engineers, but this is also good for land use planning,” Mr. Solidum said.

“But for the cluster of disaster reduction and mitigation, increasing the resiliency of four metro areas would be one of the priority programs and that would be Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, and Metro Iloilo… to fulfill those kind of goals, the PHIVOLCS is preparing information for the appropriate measures that can be done to these buildings and infrastructure,” he added.

Eddie C. Fuentes, director of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers-Davao Chapter, said the atlas reinforces the existing data provided by the city government, which would make designing resilient buildings more cost-effective.

Gerardo Ramon Cesar Reynaldo, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) development management officer for the south-central area, said they intend to integrate the PHIVOLCS information and applications into the wider Mindanao urban planning initiatives.

“We all know that Davao is an administrative center in the (Mindanao) island. Whatever happens here would have an effect on the rest of the island,” said DoST Regional Director Anthony C. Sales. — Maya M. Padillo