Politics

Over 48,000 still displaced with aftershocks, monsoon rain affecting earthquake-hit areas 

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TEMPORARY shelters are being set up on Aug. 1 in San Quintin, Abra as residents were forced to evacuate due to a landslide threat triggered by the July 27 earthquake. — PIA-ABRA VIA OCD-CORDILLERA

MORE than 48,000 people remain displaced in the aftermath of the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck northwestern Luzon on July 27, according to the latest report from the national disaster management agency.  

The 48,379 displaced are among the 404,370 affected by the earthquake, which had been followed by at least 2,286 aftershocks, as of the Aug. 2 monitoring report of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.    

Some earthquake-hit areas are also affected by landslides triggered by the tremor and compounded by continued southwest monsoon rains, said the Office of Civil Defense’s (OCD) Cordillera regional center.  

OCD-Cordillera announced on Tuesday the opening of the newly-built warehouse in Tabuk City, Kalinga.   

“With the exigency of the situation and following the magnitude 7 Northwestern Luzon Earthquake that affected most of the Cordillera, the Cordillera RDRRMC (Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) has opened its newly constructed OCD-RDRRMC Inter-Agency Warehouse in Tabuk City, Kalinga,” it said.   

“This is important as our goal is to further develop and maintain primary and secondary logistics hubs in the region to be used for the prepositioning of food and non-food items and to support the needs and augment the resources of our provinces in the northern part of the region.”  

Aid has also been coming in from local and international sources.   

The government of Japan has sent relief goods, including generators, camping tents, sleeping pads, water containers, and tarpaulins, the Japanese Embassy said on Tuesday.  

“At present, we are planning to deliver the emergency relief goods to disaster-hit areas including Abra. The specific destinations are still currently under coordination with DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development),” the embassy told BusinessWorld in an email.  

Temporary shelter materials were also turned over on July 31 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nation’s International Organization for Migration in Abra province, the earthquake epicenter.   

The death toll from the earthquake has reached 10 while 394 others were injured, as of the August 2 report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).  

There were 413 totally destroyed houses while 28,702 were partially damage, NDRRMC said.   

BILL ON NDRRMCMeanwhile, Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero on Tuesday pushed for the creation of a new government office, either a department or an agency, that will address red tape in disaster response operations to ensure faster delivery of needed aid and services.    

“The law creating a strengthened disaster response agency should have an anti-red tape provision and must ban complex rules that impede the flow of rehabilitation funds to calamity-stricken areas,” he said in a statement.  

Senator Maria Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos has filed a related bill seeking to expand the authority of the NDRRMC.  

The NDRRMC is an inter-agency body under the Department of National Defense. Its role was expanded under Republic Act 10121, the law passed in 2010 strengthening the Philippine disaster management system.   

Mr. Escudero, citing his experience as a former governor of Sorsogon, said the release of funds during emergencies was always delayed due to the cumbersome process and voluminous documents required by the national government from the local government units.  

“There is room for improvement that can speed up the process,” he said.  

A bill creating a new department on disaster management was approved by the House of Representatives in the 18th Congress but did not pass the Senate as several legislators questioned its cost and practicality. — Marifi S. Jara and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan