MANILA/ORMOC – The Department of Social Welfare and Development has brought in the first wave of relief for nearly 2,000 families displaced by the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that struck July 6 in Leyte province, killing two people and temporarily shutting down power plants.
Assistance to Leyteños also came in at the weekend from former senator Bongbong Marcos, who flew to his mother’s home province and visited victims along with his cousin, Rep. Martin Romualdez, and Davao del Norte Rep. Anton Lagdameo.
Besides financial assistance for the families of the dead, they also gave relief goods to affected families.
The DSWD, meanwhile, distributed through its field office in Region VIII a total of P3,239,260.38 worth of food and non-food items to the affected localities of Kananga and Ormoc City.
In addition, the DSWD-FO VIII provided initial relief augmentation to Ormoc City: 100 family food packs (FFPs), 200 pieces of malong, 100 pieces of blankets, 100 mats, 67 Australian tents and one tent from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Based on the latest report from the DSWD Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC), a total of 1,837 families or 9,185 persons have been displaced by the earthquake, of which, 73 families or 365 persons are staying in one evacuation center while the rest are staying with relatives and friends.
Meanwhile, the families of the two reported earthquake fatalities have already received burial assistance from the FO and are set to receive an additional P5,000 cash assistance next week.
The DSWD Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB) is now on blue alert and is presently coordinating with the FO VIII for more updates on the number of affected families and individuals, and extent of the earthquake’s damage.
Disaster preparedness and resilience
For her part, DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo explained the need to further raise awareness and educate the public in disaster preparedness and mitigation, for both man-made and natural disasters, especially since July is also considered as the National Disaster Consciousness Month (NDCM).
“The effectiveness of plans for disaster preparedness does not only lie on the government but a collective effort between the state and its citizens. This is the reason why the government continues to engage the public to participate in disaster planning, orientations, exercises and other activities. By participating and working together, we can save more lives,” the Secretary said.
“Let us build resilience and make sure that even the most vulnerable members of our families know what to do when any form of disaster strikes,” she ended.
Taguiwalo’s message of disaster preparedness found echoes in Vice President Leni Robredo.
As her rival Bongbong Marcos was visiting Leyte, Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, used her weekly radio program to underscore the importance of ensuring safety features of high-rise establishments, following the collapse of a three-story building, where one of the two fatalities was recorded.
In “BISErbisyong LENI,” the Vice President noted that these details, which may be overlooked, must be checked to ascertain that buildings, and homes within them, can withstand such natural calamities amid changing times.
“Siguro iyong hindi masyadong binibigyan ng pansin ngayon, iyong pag-i-inspect ng matataas na buildings. Kasi alam mo, iba pa iyong requirements noon. Lalo na kung magre-renew [ng permit], baka hindi pa siya nag-comply sa bagong mga requirements para maging earthquake-proof iyong mga buildings,” said Robredo, former chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
“Kaya iyong hinihikayat talaga, kahit noong nakaraang pang taon, kung nakatira ka sa isang mataas na building, siguraduhin mo sa may-ari na ito ay na-test na for safety,” she added.
In her program, Robredo interviewed local government officials in Leyte, including Leyte Governor Dominico Petilla and Mayor Rowena Codilla of the municipality of Kananga, where a three-storey commercial building collapsed after the quake.
Marcos and company were visiting Sunday Barangays Tongonan and Cabaon-an, two hard-hit villages.
Marcos praised the Duterte administration for the quick response to the needs of the earthquake victims.
At press time, Ormoc has not been placed under a state of calamity.
A big part of the Eastern Visayan province remains without electricity, as the temblor forced the shutdown of power plants, and authorities said it will take several days more to restore it.