FOR the first time in Manila’s history, Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada acquired on Wednesday a P30-million state-of-the-art containment vehicle that could respond to any nuclear, biological, radiological, and chemical (NBRC) incidents—including terrorist attacks—anywhere in the city.
Estrada said he ordered the acquisition of the NBRC trailer truck for the use of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in responding to any type of disasters and calamities, including possible terrorist chemical attacks and bombings.
“During the previous administration, our rescue units were ill-equipped to respond to even the simplest emergencies, much more to complicated disasters and hazards. Those days are gone,” the Manila mayor said.
With the new NBRC vehicle, Estrada said the rescue units of the city would be able to respond to and handle major hazards, particularly chemical spills, thus saving the lives of the victims and even those doing the rescue.
Estrada cited an incident in August 2013 when a chemical spill took place at the government-run Fabella Maternity Hospital in Sta. Cruz. He said Manila rescuers had to borrow equipment from the Hazardous Material Unit of the Bureau of Fire and Protection to help in the decontamination and cleanup efforts.
During the Rizal Day bombings on Dec. 30, 2000, Islamist terrorists detonated bombs at Plaza Ferguson in Malate and in a train cab of the Light Rail Transit-1 (LRT Line 1) at the Blumentritt Station, killing a number of people.
The bombs were made of black powder, a known chemical explosive composed of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate, according to authorities.
The NBRC truck is equipped with modern instruments, gears, and communication systems to help rescuers effectively handle and control NBRC incidents and hazards, such as fires caused by chemicals or toxic materials. It also has a decontamination tent, according to Johnny Yu, head of the MDRRMO.
The vehicle is imported from Europe and manufactured by Italy-based Cristanini S.P.A. CBRN Decontamination Systems, a leading firm that provides a full range of protective residential, industrial and military equipment.
“For example there is fire in a factory. So, normally that’s what we could use or if there are biological or chemical attacks used by the terrorists. We could use these for a high-level operation,” Yu explained the use of the NBRC containment truck.
Disaster readiness and resiliency is one of Estrada’s priority programs. He has poured in over P600 million for continuous disaster risk reduction and response capability building at the grassroots level.