Batangas City, 2 towns under state of calamity

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BATANGAS CITY: A state of calamity was declared in two towns and one city of Batangas province – Tingloy, Mabini and this city – after the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) met with Gov. Hermilando Mandanas, who had asked the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) to make the declaration official.

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Lito Castro, PDRRMO action officer, reported that 3,508 families or 11, 348 individuals had been affected by earthquakes that struck the province on April 4 and April 8.

Castro confirmed three injuries: one in Mabini town, a glass store owner; and two in Bauan town (one while going out of church, debris falling on the person, and the other inside a supermarket).

Their identities are still being verified but their injuries were all minor, he said.

The provincial government is providing assistance, giving out hot foods and providing tents as temporary shelters for people who scampered to open areas, scared of further tremors.

Castro said aftershocks were getting fewer.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has assured residents of earthquake-hit Batangas that the government is “on the top of the situation,” as he prepared to leave for his three-nation Middle East tour.

In his departure speech at the Davao International Airport on Monday afternoon, Duterte said that while affected residents are “still reeling from the damage brought by the recent earthquake,” he is “relieved that no deaths have been reported despite the reported number of aftershocks.”

“The concerned citizens of government have immediately responded to give relief and ease the suffering of the affected residents by conducting evacuation, clearing of landslides along roads and dispatching of ready-to-eat foods,” he said.

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit the province of Batangas on April 4, followed by twin tremors on April 8 – magnitude 5.6 and magnitude 6.0.

There were no fatalities but the quakes left structures damaged.

Duterte said while damage assessment is still ongoing, he has directed concerned agencies “to accelerate the delivery of services and hasten the rehabilitation of the affected public infrastructures and utilities.”

“Rest assured, our government is on top of the situation. I have personally ordered that relief operations be undertaken immediately, to restore normalcy in the affected areas as soon as possible,” he added.

“With what has transpired, I enjoin all Filipinos, let us always be prepared for disasters,” the President said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development said in a statement also on Monday that it has provided P1.3 million worth of initial relief assistance.

The supplies include tents, blankets, bottled water, family food packs, ready-to-eat food and energy drinks.

The assistance was divided among municipalities and cities struck by the earthquake: P644,116 to Mabini in Batangas; P286,480 to the island town of Tingloy; and P9,504 to the city of Batangas from the total amount of assistance of P1,397,880.

A total of P457,780 was provided to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office of Batangas for distribution to quake-devastated families.

WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND DEMPSEY REYES

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