PRRD orders immediate help for Mindanao quake victims: Andanar
By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed all concerned government agencies to expedite the delivery of assistance to the victims of the destructive earthquake that once again shook parts of Mindanao on Thursday morning.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar assured the quake victims that the national government’s response teams from disaster risk management agencies are already “on top of the situation”.
“He (Duterte) has ordered all government agencies to check and submit a report about the Mindanao earthquake, to ensure government buildings and public school buildings are safe, and to make sure evacuees are located in a safe area,” Andanar said in a statement on Thursday.
“President Duterte has also instructed agencies with specific tasks with regards to their functions,” he added.
Andanar said the President has already instructed the Social Welfare and Health departments to be in charge of relief and medical assistance.
The Department of Energy has been directed to check power interruptions in quake-hit areas, while the Department of Public Works and Highways has been tasked to monitor whether roads or highways are passable or not, Andanar added.
Andanar likewise noted that the Department of Labor and Employment has been asked to report job displacements of workers in affected areas and provide the necessary assistance.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 rocked some areas in Mindanao on Thursday morning, the second tremor to jolt the region this week.
The strong quake was felt 33 kilometers east of Tulunan town in Cotabato province at around 9:11 a.m., Thursday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said in its bulletin.
On Tuesday (Oct. 29), a 6.6 magnitude earthquake also rattled Tulunan, Cotabato, leaving at least eight people dead.
Quake victims told to check updates from ‘legitimate’ sources
Andanar urged local chief executives to closely coordinate with national agencies to ensure immediate help to quake victims.
To avoid panic, Andanar called on the public to continue monitoring “legitimate” advisories and announces from the government.
“We sympathize with the people who have been affected by the series of earthquakes that have struck Mindanao in the past couple of weeks,” he said.
“While the government is doing its part, we urge the residents and individuals in the affected areas to stay safe and remain vigilant of possible aftershocks; and to report to the authorities unsafe damaged structures,” he added.
PCOO’s ‘Laging Handa: Earthquake Update’ activated
The latest tremor prompted Andanar to activate the “Laging Handa: Earthquake Update,” an initiative that will inform the public of the government’s response and other actions.
Andanar tapped PCOO Assistant Secretary Joseph Lawrence Garcia to lead the over-all Laging Handa operations in Davao City.
The PCOO’s monitoring of the situation in earthquake-hit areas will involve state-run People’s Television, Philippine News Agency, Philippine Broadcasting Service, Bureau of Communications Services, Philippine Information Agency, and Radio Television Malacañang, Andanar noted.
“We remind everyone to stay compassionate and considerate to each other in these trying times. While we’re at it, let us pray for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao and for their quick recovery and return to normalcy,” he said.
Amendment to National Building Code sought
The 6.5-magnitude quake destroyed several buildings and roads in affected areas.
The massive damage to infrastructure following the quake convinced Andanar that it was “high time” to amend Republic Act (RA) 6541 or the National Building Code of the Philippines.
Andanar was optimistic that Congress would pass a measure that will introduce amendments to RA 6541.
“We are also calling on the legislature to amend the National Building Code to avoid further structural danger during natural disasters,” he said.
“It’s high time to revamp and tighten this outdated law as its current framework is very lax. Let us not wait for a disaster to happen before we become strict in granting building permits,” Andanar added. (PNA)