Disaster relief agency admits delay in earthquake assistance
November 03 2019 01:42 AM
Coast guard
Coast guard personnel load food packs onto a truck destined for victims of recent earthquakes on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines, at a welfare warehouse in Manila.

By Darwin Pesco/Manila Times

Some 29,349 families or 146,745 persons displaced by a series of strong earthquakes in Mindanao are “experiencing difficulties” as assistance came in trickles in devastated areas where there has been a shortage of water and food, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said yesterday.
Mark Timbal, NDRRMC spokesman, admitted that the government’s delivery of relief goods in the quake-hit areas was “delayed” and that “some of the stockpiles were running low.”
But Timbal said the NDRRMC had relayed the complaints of the affected residents to the respective local government units (LGUs) for immediate action.
“We can’t avoid delays in the delivery of relief goods and some of the stockpiles are running low,” Timbal told Manila Times in a text message.
“We are just waiting for the requested augmentation of supplies, but the transfer of relief goods from the NDRRMC to the regions and LGUs is continuous,” he said.
Timbal added that the government understood the situation of the affected residents and assured them that the government would continue to provide relief support for all the displaced families to “ease their difficulties.”
“We understand that the evacuees are experiencing the difficulties of staying in temporary shelters and open spaces,” Timbal said, adding that augmented relief supplies had arrived in Mindanao and could be now distributed by the LGUs.
“Please understand that there might be possible delays of delivery because many are affected, but local governments are working round the clock to deliver,” he said.
The NDRRMC, according to Timbal, advised affected families not to return to their houses “until these structures are assessed as stable by engineers.”
Until now, the NDRRMC has not received any report of residents having illnesses while in the evacuation centres.
In a report, it said all affected families were from 149 villages in Region 11 (Davao Region) and Region 12 (Soccsksargen or South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City). Of the affected families, 5, 497 were displaced from their houses.
At least 4,127 families are currently housed in 27 evacuation centres, while 1,370 were being served outside the centres.
Citing data from the Department of Education (Deped), Save the Children, a non-government organisation, said 3mn learners were affected by the earthquake.
But Timbal said the NDRRMC had no data on affected children yet as of press time.
Save the Children said it would set up child-friendly spaces to give psychological aid to children with psycho-social stress after the earthquake.
In Malacanang, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ordered Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to lead relief efforts and ensure the safety and security of the public in quake-hit areas.
“I have tasked Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, as head of the Department of National Defence (DND) and martial law administrator, to lead relief efforts and to ensure safety and security of the public in the earthquake-stricken areas of Mindanao,” said Medialdea, who was designated by President Rodrigo Duterte as officer in charge of the executive department while he was in Thailand for the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
“The public is advised to co-ordinate directly with the DND and/or National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to ensure the efficient conduct of relief efforts, including the distribution of relief goods and rescue operations,” he added.
Two more earthquakes rocked parts of Mindanao yesterday. 
A magnitude 4.5 tremor jolted Cotabato earlier in the day, while a magnitude 4.4 shook Sarangani and Davao Occidental in the afternoon, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.
More powerful quakes shook Mindanao in less than three weeks last month: magnitude 6.3 on October 16, magnitude 6.6 on October 29 and magnitude 6.5 on October 31.
The quakes affected large parts of Mindanao, each time weakening structures, with several giving way in the latest temblor.But the NDRRMC said no total amount of damage has been reported as there was still continuous assessment on the ground.
The NDRRMC recorded 21 deaths from the quakes on October 29 and 31, with 331 hurt and two still missing.
NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad, in a statement, said various government departments and agencies were co-ordinating to assist the residents affected in Mindanao.
Jalad added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Office of Civil Defence sent out family food packs, tents, tarpaulins and shelter repair kits for families staying outside and inside evacuation centres, while the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Fire and Protection and Philippine Coast Guard have used subordinate units to conduct search and rescue operations supporting LGUs.
He said the Marikina City government donated 100 modular tents to the families of Cotabato as temporary shelters to “give them privacy and comfort while at evacuation sites.” The same tents were used before by affected residents during floods in Marikina City, Jalad added.
For medical assistance, he said the Department of Health through its regional office has mobilised its manpower.
According to Jalad, Phivolcs and Mines and Geosciences Bureau conducted ground and aerial surveys in Cotabato and Davao del Sur “to collect damage data and analyse the same to prevent further risks.”
The Department of Public Works and Highways conducted assessment of the damage and structural integrity of major roads, buildings and other public structures, he said.
According to Jalad, the Department of Agriculture of Soccsksargen has started assessing the damaged water system and would also do repairs.
Based on the NDRMMC latest data, 28,222 infrastructure were damaged in Zamboanga (Region 9), Northern Mindanao (Region 10), Davao, Soccsksargen and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)
The strong earthquakes damaged 27, 350 houses; 757 schools; 37 health facilities; 30 other public structures; 26 private establishments; 16 roads and bridges; and six places of worships.
But according to DepEd’s latest situation report, there are 510 schools damaged by the earthquakes in the southern region.
The DepEd said five schools were damaged in BARMM; 38 in Northern Mindanao; 166 in Davao Region; and 301 in Soccksargen.
There are also 418 totally damaged classrooms; 599 major damaged classrooms; and 2,373 minor damaged classrooms, it said.
An estimate of P926.5mn is needed for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of these schools, the DepEd added.
Almost 7,000 schools and over 3mn students in Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccksargen and BARMM were affected by class suspensions after the earthquakes.
In a message to Manila Times, Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the DepEd Central Office would provide temporary learning spaces, clean-up funds, learners’ and teachers’ kit, emergency school feeding and psychological first aid to ensure learning continuity.
“The Regional Directors (RDs) and their officials up to school level have strategies to resume classes such as shifting, Alternative Delivery Modes (ADM),etc,” Sevilla added.
Classes in some areas with no or less damage would start tomorrow, while other areas with more damage, the department will provide psycho-social debriefing and first aid to the students and teachers first, she said.
Fifteen areas in Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat are still experiencing power outages and interruptions.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano has assured that all local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils in affected areas were “convened and operational.”
Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Archie Francisco Gamboa has ordered mobilisation of its personnel to prevent crimes.
On Tuesday, the PNP was placed under full alert status after the 6.6 magnitude earthquake in some parts of Mindanao Island.

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