By Jovic Yee
Thirteen more schools were identified by the Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday as lying on top of the West or East Valley Fault systems or located within the five-meter buffer zone.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said in a press conference that eight were private schools in Quezon City, Taguig, Muntinlupa and Laguna province while the rest were public schools in Rodriguez, Rizal.
He identified the private schools as Ateneo de Manila University Grade School and Filinvest II Ideal Montessori Center Inc., both in Quezon City; Army’s Angels Integrated School and Sto. Niño Catholic School, both in Taguig City; Our Lady of the Abandoned Catholic School, Affordable Private Education Center (Apec) School-Muntinlupa, and Muntinlupa Institute of Technology, all in Muntinlupa City; and St. Therese of the Child Jesus Annex in San Pedro, Laguna.
The DepEd said these eight schools were found to be bisected by the West Valley Fault line.
On the other hand, two public schools in Rodriguez, Rizal—Macabud National High School and Tagumpay National High School—lie within the five-meter buffer zone while the lone entrance/exit gate of Tagumpay Elementary School, another public school in Rodriquez, Rizal, is situated on top of the fault line.
Two other public schools in the same town in Rizal province are affected by the East Valley Fault system. Mascap National High School has a building which is bisected by the fault line while its elementary school is within the five-meter buffer zone.
According to Luistro, the DepEd will continue to determine which schools are affected by the two fault systems based on the detailed maps released recently by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
“This will not be the last but this is an exhaustive list thus far from the available digitized map,” Luistro said.
“When we look at the maps, we really cannot just focus on fault lines passing through the schools. We’re also thinking what if the earthquake occurs just when the students are going to or leaving school? We must look at the bigger picture,” he added.
Only last month, DepEd and Phivolcs officials identified five public schools and one private school traversed by the West Valley Fault.
At Ateneo Grade School, the start of classes for Grades 3 to 6 students has been moved to Aug. 3 to allow the school to retrofit two buildings found to be lying close to the West Valley Fault. School principal Jose Salvador said the decision to retrofit Fermin and Pacquing Halls which house a total of 1,700 students was made based on a structural audit.
Since school will start late for these students, Salvador said they were considering holding Saturday classes in order to end the academic year by April. He added that they have already informed DepEd officials and parents of affected students about the move.
Meanwhile, Apec-Muntinlupa school officials said they decided to move the start of classes to July 13 after they received a report from Phivolcs last week that their lone school building was traversed by the West Valley Fault aside from being 30 meters away from a fissure.
School head Ernie Cifra said they offered three options to parents: free shuttle service for students who want to temporarily transfer to another branch, permanent transfer to the school’s 23 other branches, or a full refund for those seeking transfer to other schools.