PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte should declare Eastern Visayas under a state of calamity after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the region, damaging homes and power lines that have left the affected areas in the dark for a week, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.
Reps. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and Edgar Sarmiento made the call after the July 6 quake damaged the Tongonan geothermal plant, which is the region’s primary power source.
Worse, the magnitude 5.4 aftershock in July 10 also damaged the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’(NGCP) transmission lines that could have enabled the region to get its power supply from Cebu and Luzon.
“We could have imported power supply from Cebu, but that power supply cannot be distributed because NGCP’s transmission lines are not working anymore due to aftershock. This has impactful implications. For one, fisherfolk can’t fish because there’s no ice due to absence of power supply. Commercial establishments such as hotels and restaurants are left in the dark,” Evardone told reporters.
“Another problem is that our biggest industry is manufacturing, mainly copra. If we don’t have power supply, people will lose their jobs. That’s why we lawmakers in the region agreed to appeal to the President to put Region 8 under state of calamity,” Evardone said.
Evardone then cited that based on government data, the region is losing from P300 million to P500 million a day because of the absence of electricity.
“By putting it under state of calamity, the executive can promptly intervene by ordering the rapid deployment of power barges and generators and subsidize its cost,” Evardone said.
Eastern Visayas’ power supply requirement is at 210 megawatts per day.
A region in state of calamity will be entitled to subsidy from the region and the national government’s calamity fund allocation.