MALACAÑANG on Monday clarified that the P2 billion worth of assistance announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday was meant for communities affected by the closure of mining firms, not victims of the earthquake in Surigao City.
In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he had consulted Duterte’s special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go on the correct interpretation of the President’s statements in Surigao, which were in Visayan.
“Bong said, ‘I didn’t hear anything like that,’” Andanar told radio station dzRH.
“I would like to clarify that. The President was saying that in the context of the mining. He said that if the mining operations are closed, people will lose their jobs,” he added.
News organizations, including The Manila Times, reported Monday that Duterte had ordered the release of P2 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for earthquake victims.
Duterte, together with several Cabinet members, flew to Surigao City on Sunday to inspect the response effort in areas affected by the 6.7-magnitude quake that killed at least eight people.
The President, who delivered a speech in the Visayan language, mentioned that the P2 billion aid would go to DSWD “for them to purchase medicines for people who sustained trauma and other injuries.”
“I have released a small amount of money. So I will tell you, those who have lost their livelihood, it’s only small. About P2 billion, I think that’s enough. You won’t be able to spend it! Go on, just buy them a subdivision or a house and lot maybe,” Duterte was quoted as saying in a translation sent by Malacañang transcribers.
But Andanar said Duterte only mentioned, during a meeting, the provision of P1 billion to the DSWD and another P1 billion for other needs.
“The P2 billion he mentioned, ‘this P2 billion is this enough? This was what the President mentioned when he was talking in the context of mining, that when the operations are closed, people will need livelihood,” he said.