5.2 quake rocks Samar; Mindanao death toll rises to 9

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
5.2 quake rocks Samar; Mindanao death toll rises to 9
Investigators are examining the location where Danny and Jane Ginung were caught under debris from a concrete fence damaged by the earthquake on Nov. 17, 2023.
Philstar.com / John Unson

MANILA, Philippines — The number of reported deaths resulting from last Friday’s magnitude 6.8 earthquake that shook parts of Mindanao has increased to nine.

Eight of the fatalities are from the Soccsksargen region in Central Mindanao, which was the most affected, while one is from the Davao region.

Latest reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said at least 15 people were injured.

The earthquake affected a total of 2,489 families or 12,885 persons from 20 barangays in the Davao region and 23 others from the Soccsksargen.

As of yesterday, there are no reported missing persons, and no families or individuals are staying in any evacuation center in affected provinces and localities.

The NDRRMC’s updated situational report said a total of 826 houses were damaged, of which 97 were totally destroyed, mostly in Region 12.

So far, there are no reported assessments or any information yet for estimated damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

NDRRMC spokesman Edgar Posadas said five of the fatalities are from the province of Sarangani, though he did not confirm that these include a mother and child who were reported buried under rubble in the municipality of Glan.

He said that three of those who died are from South Cotabato and one is from Davao Occidental, with the ninth fatality reported only yesterday morning also coming from Sarangani.

Posadas, in an interview over CNN Philippines, said the number of those injured is expected to rise as reports from the ground continue to be gathered.

Marcos ‘concerned’ – VP

President Marcos is “very concerned” about the magnitude 6.8 earthquake that hit Mindanao last week, Vice President Sara Duterte said, as she visited the quake-affected areas in the region.

“President BBM is very concerned about the earthquake in Mindanao and he has expressed his appreciation for the quick response of all concerned government agencies,” Duterte said on Sunday.

The Vice President visited funeral homes, hospitals and several other establishments in Sarangani province and General Santos City as the country’s caretaker, while Marcos is in the US for the APEC summit.

She said all Filipinos should take the disaster as a wake-up call to bolster their disaster preparedness at the household level.

“Taking care of our families, having emergency kits and having a disaster plan are important to save ourselves and our loved ones,” Duterte said.

She said the Marcos administration is “deeply distraught” over the deaths and the destruction brought by the earthquake.

“I extend my sincere condolences and we have also given financial assistance to all the families currently facing the challenges brought by the disaster,” Duterte said.

“I also extend the condolences of President BBM as his caretaker while he is abroad for his work,” she added.

DOLE assistance

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is readying assistance to workers affected by the strong quake in Sarangani, Davao Occidental.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said he has directed the DOLE’s regional office to undertake the assessment to determine the necessary assistance.

“The DOLE will extend assistance to the earthquake victims through our program like TUPAD (Tulong Panghanap-buhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced workers),” Laguesma noted.

Laguesma said he is awaiting the report from the regional office on how much budget shall be allocated for the implementation of TUPAD and other appropriate assistance.

Aside from emergency employment, DOLE may also extend skills training and livelihood assistance to displaced workers.

DSWD aid

Meanwhile, more than P11 million in assistance have been given by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to victims of the Mindanao earthquake.

According to DSWD Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez, they have mobilized the agency’s field offices to provide immediate assistance to the victims to allow them to get back on their feet at the soonest possible time.

He said the DSWD had intensified its coordination with the local government units in the “swift delivery” of family food packs (FFPs) and cash aid under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.

Data showed the DSWD, through its Davao region field office, had distributed some 1,015 FFPs to the affected families in the municipalities of Don Marcelino and Sarangani.

On the other hand, the field office for Soccsksargen also extended some 8,200 food boxes to the provincial government of Sarangani, the municipality of Glan and General Santos City.

“Aside from food packs, the department also extended cash aid to address the urgent needs of the affected families. This will help them purchase other items and things they need,” Lopez noted.

Up to 2,317 beneficiaries from General Santos City and the municipalities of Glan and Malapatan in Saragani received outright cash assistance from the DSWD.

“The DSWD remains steadfast in our mission to provide timely and efficient assistance to communities affected by the earthquake,” he added. — Mayen Jaymalin, Sheila Crisostomo, Neil Jayson Servallos

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