• Hundreds of houses damaged in series of Batangas tremors

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    THE series of earthquakes that shook Batangas province on Saturday damaged around 500 houses, 90 of which were deemed uninhabitable, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Sunday, citing reports from village officials.

    NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said the agency will validate the reports because these were the initial assessment of village officials.

    “This has to be validated because the report came from barangay chairmen. Their standards may be different,” Jalad said.

    He said disaster officials are gathering more information on the effects of the quakes, particularly in Mabini town because the incident management team in the area are not trained and could not adequately assess disaster situations.

    “But we have here initial submission of effect, more on damage to houses and facilities. There are some damages in the barangay (villages) such as multi-purpose hall and houses,” Jalad said.

    The tremors did not prompt the evacuation of affected residents.

    “The people panicked so they rushed in front of the municipal hall. But they went back to their respective houses so there is no need for relief operation, except when they are here in the municipal hall, they are fed by the local government officials,” he explained.

    Sufficient relief goods
    The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), meanwhile, gave assurances that the government has sufficient relief goods for those affected by the quakes.

    “The DSWD is ready to give support to Batangas and other affected communities,” DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said in a statement.

    The DSWD’s Central Office, Calabarzon Field Office and National Resource Operations Center have a total stockpile and standby funds amounting to P1,159,951,881.64 broken down to: 119,831 Family Food Packs amounting to P46,440,567.52; food and non-Food items amounting to P103,582,920.02; and standby funds totalling P1,009,928,394.10. Of the said standby fund, P1,006,928,394.10 is available as Quick Response Funds.

    Relief goods have already been delivered to the provincial government of Batangas and the DSWD field office in Calabarzon.

    New laws eyed
    Lawmakers from the House of Representatives urged the passage of several measures in response to the damage wrought by recent earthquakes.

    Rep. Salvador Belaro of Una ang Edukasyon party-list called for a probe on building code compliance in quake-hit areas.

    Belaro observed that several structures damaged in the recent tremors in Batangas were apparently recently built. These hinted at lack of compliance with existing relevant laws, he said.

    “If the National Building Code and its implementing rules were followed faithfully, those damages should not have happened. I will file a resolution seeking an immediate investigation into how those damaged buildings were built and whether they obeyed the law,” the lawmaker said.

    Rep. Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol Party-list, meanwhile, filed House Bill 805 which seeks to mandate schools and universities to formulate area-specific disaster management plans and education programs.

    “It is imperative that we educate our students with the proper preparation and response to these kinds of disasters,” Batocabe said.

    WITH A REPORT FROM LLANESCA T. PANTI

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