2 quake-affected areas running low on funds

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    DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said calamity funds of local government units (LGU) in North Cotabato are running low, affecting their capability to address the effects of the recent quakes in Mindanao.

    Lorenzana, also the chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said local officials are requesting additional funds from the national government.

    Ricardo Jalad, NDRRMC executive officer and administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said Kidapawan City and Makilala town, both in North Cotabato, are among the LGUs that will need funds.

    The three strong quakes last month, all with epicenter at Tulunan town in North Cotabato, also affected Sarangani, Bukidnon, and South Cotabato provinces, and the cities of Kidapawan, Davao, Koronadal, General Santos, and Cagayan de Oro.

    At least 200,000 residents have been affected by the quakes in Northern Mindanao, Davao, and Soccsksargen regions, according to the NDRRMC. Dozens died and nearly 35,000 structures have been destroyed or damaged.

    Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and other government officials visited North Cotabato yesterday to check on the status of relief operations in the quake-stricken areas and attend to the concerns of the local officials.

    “Their calamity funds are already depleted so their request is to be given funding for the repair of damaged houses and construction of new houses for those who are to be relocated,” said Lorenzana.

    Lorenzana said the LGUs also need funds for the repair of damaged schools, barangay halls and other government facilities.

    Asked how much the LGUs need for the relocation of the residents living in landslide-prone areas, Lorenzana said: “None yet. We will ask them to submit because the situation is still fluid.”

    “They are still busy attending to the needs of the (displaced) victims. When this settles down, they will submit to us their estimates so higher-ups can attend to it… Of course, the national government will release funds to buy lands and put up structures, homes,” said Lorenzana.

    Jalad said Kidapawan City and Makilala town have also suffered from the El Niño phenomenon.

    “They local DRRM (disaster risk reduction management) funds are already depleted. They were also hit by El Niño… If they need quick reaction funds, if they need augmentation, all they have to do is request,” said Jalad.

    The Department of Education (DepEd) said the quakes damaged around P2.2 billion in infrastructure in Tulunan.

    Cost for reconstruction is estimated at around P1.7 billion, and P496 million for the rehabilitation for Region 10, 11, 12 and Bangsamoro Administrative Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

    DepEd said around 837 schools were affected by the earthquakes.

    ARMY AID

    Army soldiers are going to donate P100 each, equivalent to two meals, to the quake victims.

    There are about 97,000 officers and men in the Army. A soldier’s meal is worth P50 or P150 for the entire day.

    “The donations will be allocated to aid the individuals and families affected by the disaster,” said acting Army spokesman Col. Patricio Ruben Amata.

    “This command initiative is just a part of our response to our mandate to serve the Filipino people and we eagerly encourage everyone to volunteer or extend support to help our fellow Filipinos in need,” added Amata.

    PNP officer in charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa turned over to local officials in North Cotabato P2 million worth of relief goods.

    The amount used in the buying the relief goods were donated by policemen. Gamboa earlier urged all policemen to donate no less than P10 to the victims of the quakes.

    The Department of Labor and Employment will conduct occupational safety and health investigations in business establishments in areas hit by the earthquakes.

    DOLE Region 12 (Soccsksargen) director Sisinio Cano also said at least 718 workers from Tulunan and Kidapawan City have been given emergency employment assistance.

    A job fair was also conducted and sponsored by General Santos City, wherein 85 applicants were hired on the spot.

    The health department has allocated P4.4 million worth of commodities for the victims, including micronutrient powders, ready-to-use therapeutic food, assorted drugs and medicines, and hygiene kits.

    Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the department has also directed its teams to provide mental health and psychosocial support to those affected by the tremors. – With Rod Lagusad and Gerard Naval