SAN FERNANDO CITY — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte praised the quick response of government agencies, local government units, and non-governmental organizations in Pampanga following the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the province last Monday.
“First of all, I’d like to thank the various local government units and the NGOs who are in the place for the excellent camaraderie shown during the crisis,” President Duterte said during a situation briefing at the Pampanga provincial capitol on Tuesday, April 23.
“I arrived last night, 2 o’clock, and I would have wanted to visit here but I was not allowed by the provincial commander. I was given the thumbs down because there was no sufficient light to guide us even on going around,” he added.
In the briefing, the President asked about Chuzon grocery store that collapsed during the quake, killing several individuals. Many others are still missing as of Tuesday.
The President wants authorities to investigate the incident because, according to him, business owners often ignore safety standards or don’t comply with the requirements of the law to save money, which compromises public safety.
“That would be the work of the investigators. Secretary Año and maybe DPWH and the police could help in the determination of the structural integrity of that building whether it was a defect…man-made, or one of those really…I said that it can happen and it was a bad day for them to have it,” he said.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año reported that the foundation of the Chuzon supermarket is only good for two-storeys but its owner constructed up to two additional floors.
Secretary Año also noted that he would issue a memorandum circular for LGUs that have Chuzon supermarkets in their jurisdiction to temporarily suspend the establishments’ business permit until the DILG has pre-assessed the structural integrity of those supermarkets.
Chuzon’s owner was also summoned by the CIDG Tuesday afternoon, Secretary Año told the President.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported that, as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, a total of 112 individuals are confined at different hospitals in the region.
Secretary Duque assured the President that the health department has sufficient money, medicine, and manpower to address the crisis.
In the agriculture sector, the earthquake did not have much impact for the region, according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
Aside from P50 million worth of damage on irrigation canals and dams, damage is minimal, and the government’s production targets would not be affected, he reported.
The department also has rice stocks on standby in case Pampanga needs additional supply.
The Department of Education (DepEd) said about 108 schools were affected by the earthquake in three regions: Region 3, National Capital Region, and Region 4-B. Also, about 80 classrooms were damaged.
As of Tuesday afternoon, DepEd said the total worth of damage to school facilities was about P120 million. To cover the cost, the department has requested the Department of Budget and Management for additional funds and apply for pay-out via the parametric insurance at the Department of Finance (DoF) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) extended assistance to quake survivors.
The DSWD also reported to the President its relief efforts in affected communities in Pampanga.
In Porac, Pampanga alone, the DSWD said it distributed 200 family food packs to the affected families. It also provided burial cash assistance to 11 individuals.
Some 445 families in three evacuation centers received food packs from the DSWD. Two evacuation centers are located in Pampanga and one in Zambales.
Emergency shelter assistance would be provided to 56 families from eight communities in Porac, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said.
The DSWD still has more than 14,000 family food packs ready for distribution. Also, a total of P10.5 million in cash and in kind is ready for utilization, according to Secretary Bautista.
Regarding the Chuzon employees who lost their jobs following the disaster, the DOLE said it profiled 105 workers from Chuzon, adding the workers can be absorbed readily by the local economy.
The President expressed his gratitude to all who worked in the aftermath of the Luzon earthquake.
“I’d like to thank you for the esprit de corps that you have displayed so far. Kaya sana magpaiwan na ganun ‘yan. For after all, we are really living in one country, and there is fault, fault, fault everywhere,” he said.
“Anyway, it’s not so devastating if I would say the word, but it is a problem for us…and the fact that we are assembled here talking about it. At the end of the day, it boils down to money,” he added.
The epicenter of the magnitude 6.1 earthquake was in Castillejos, Zambales, killing 16 people, Office of Civil Defense Administrator Ricardo Jalad said.
A total 28 structures were damaged in Region 3 as of Tuesday afternoon, Jalad reported, including Clark International Airport that was temporarily shut down last Monday. ###PND