A veteran lawmaker urged members and leaders in the House of Representatives to swiftly pass a bill that seeks to regulate the placement and support structures of billboards which can significantly help in the country’s efforts for earthquake preparedness.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian issued the call after Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) renewed its warning about the possibility of having the West Valley Fault Line to cause a 7.2 earthquake in Metro Manila.
Gatchalian, a vice chair in the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, sought the urgent passage of his House Bill No. 5008 or the “Billboard Regulation Act” in its second deliberation at the House Committee on Public Order and Safety.
During the deliberation of his bill, the former Valenzuela City mayor argued that the presence of giant billboards and other signages, particularly in urban areas and along major highways, are just accidents that are waiting to happen.
By seeking to limit the size of such advertising materials, the veteran lawmaker said his proposed measure will help mitigate the damage and lessen the number of casualties of an upcoming earthquake or other natural disasters.
“Bakit pa natin hihintayin na malagyan iyang mga billboard at may masawi kapag nagkaroon nang sakuna kung pwede na natin, ngayon palang, ayusin na ang dapat ayusin?”Gatchalian asked.
“We do not know when an earthquake will strike, but we know it is coming. Honestly, we can never be prepared. There will be casualties no matter what. However, we should understand that disaster planning and preparedness is still of utmost importance,” he explained.
A study presented by Phivolcs and Australian government in 2013 showed that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the West Valley Fault line, which runs across Metro Manila and other provinces in Luzon, could kill an estimate of 37,000 people in an instant and injure 604,000 persons. Such earthquake would also cause an estimated damage of P2.4 trillion to buildings.
Under “Billboard Regulation Act”, display of sign and sign structures, including electronics and billboards, shall not exceed 216 square meters.
Also, height of ground signs and sign structures of billboards along major thoroughfares, such as Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), Circumferential Road (C-5), and Commonwealth Avenue, shall be limited to 24 to 36 meters.
No billboards should also be installed in hazardous or populous places, which includes historical sites, schools, hospitals, parks, power plants or near power lines.
It is also prohibited to build a billboard structure within the distance of 100 meters from another existing billboard.
Billboards must also be duly certified to have 240 to 250 kilometers per hour wind-load capacity to ensure that it will be able to withstand strong gusty winds during typhoons.
Billboards on rooftops shall also not exceed one-fourth of the area of the supporting roof. Meanwhile, wall signs should not exceed the roofline or obstruct any windows or any openings, such as fire exits.
Advertisers will also be required to secure a certificate from a structure or civil engineer confirming the structural soundness of the existing building to carry a wall or roof sign.
All owners and operator of regulated signs, billboards and structure along major thoroughfares shall be required to secure a clearance from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). Meanwhile, local government units (LGUs) shall issue advertising permits with regards to other areas. (Tim Alcantara)