A team of engineers from the UP College of Engineering (UP-CoE) further assured the safety of people gravely affected by the recent Mindanao earthquakes by conducting structural assessment of vital buildings in North Cotabato Province and the hard-hit Municipality of Makilala.
Headed by the UP College of Engineering Dean, in coordination with the provincial and municipal local government units, the UP-CoE Team inspected twenty (20) vital public and private structures from November 9 to 11, 2019 to ascertain whether they could be re-occupied, or their access restricted or declared off limits.
These included government buildings, gymnasiums, evacuation centers, office buildings, hotels, commercial establishments, condominiums, and a bridge. The municipal building of Makilala was declared off limits after serious damage was detected on the columns in the basement.
The UP-CoE Team is composed of: Dean Ferdinand G. Manegdeg; Civil Engineers Jaime Hernandez Jr., Eric Augustus Tingatinga, Jihan Pacer, and Julius Baniqued; and Geodetic Engineer Christian Candido, all of whom worked hand in hand with North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmy Lou T. Mendoza, Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, and three local engineers.
Structural damage assessment was one of three immediate needs spelled out by Cotabato Province in a November 6, 2019 letter to UP seeking assistance following the series of earthquakes on October 29 and 31, 2019. Ascertaining safety of structures would rationalize evacuation, according to the LGUs.
The UP College of Engineering had been organizing a team of volunteer engineers for Mindanao since October 31. The UP-CoE Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) and Building Research Service (BRS) have traditionally deployed volunteer engineers in response to disasters, the last one being the Bohol earthquake. When the Cotabato LGU request came, they were ready to be deployed to the area in coordination with the UP Resilience Institute.
Currently, University efforts to assist affected LGUs are coordinated by a Mindanao Earthquake Response Team (MERT-UP). Aside from the UP-CoE Team, UP had also sent a team of geology experts, and, as of press time, is preparing the deployment of a combined psycho-social and medical response team from UP Manila, UP Visayas, and UP Diliman.
MERT-UP has issued calls for financial donations to support the logistical and subsistence needs of the teams, and the needs of communities best addressed by the University.