LOON, Bohol, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III was back in Bohol but chose to visit evacuees in Loon town instead of the adjacent town of Marijoboc whose chief executive was under fire for driving away Red Cross volunteers who had refused to hand over relief items to the local government.
Mr. Aquino and some members of the Cabinet arrived in Loon “one of the worst-hit towns along with Maribojoc” at 5:45 p.m.
They proceeded to Loon South Central School and distributed 180 packs of relief goods to 166 families who were staying in the evacuation center there.
Although Maribojoc was among the worst-hit areas, the municipality was not part of the President’s iterinary.
Maribojoc Mayor Lencio Evasco Jr., who belongs to the United Nationalist Alliance, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he was not told of the President’s visit in Bohol.
But had Mr. Aquino decided to go to Maribojoc, next to Loon, he added he would have welcomed the President, saying he had not done anything wrong.
He maintained that centralizing the distribution of relief goods in Maribojoc has been his way of maintaining order and ensuring that all 27 barangays received their share.
During his visit to the Loon Central School, President Aquino allayed the fears of the evacuees who told him of the talks circulating that the entire province would eventually sink.
He assured that there was no truth to such rumors and that the strong earthquake had already passed.
To prove this, he added, he had decided to spend the night in Loon inside a tent that was set up for him and his party at an open field in Loon.
Mr. Aquino also told the evacuees that he was in touch with people on the ground to ensure that their needs were met.
With the President were Secretaries Dinky Soliman of Social Welfare, Mar Roxas of Interior and Local Government and Rogelio Singson of Public Works and Highways.
From the public market, the President and his party went to Our Lady of Light Parish, which had been reduced into rubble to check on the about 600 evacuees there and to distribute relief goods.
They then went to the Congressman Natalio Castillo Memorial Hospital, which had been evacuated after it was destroyed during the earthquake. The patients were staying at makeshift tents that were set up at the hospital open basketball court.
He would then proceed to the municipal hall for a briefing with local officials.
At least 100 evacuees crammed inside the municipal hall to catch the glimpse of the President.
On Thursday, the President was expected to visit Tubigon and Sagbayan towns. He was scheduled to leave the province at 3 p.m.
This was Mr. Aquino’s second visit to Bohol, which had been reeling from the devastation caused by the earthquake.
The first was on Oct. 16 where he visited parts of Bohol before flying to Cebu to inspect the damage there.
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol and Cebu islands on Oct. 15, killing close to 194 people in Bohol, Cebu and Siquijor, according to one count.
Data from the Bohol command center showed that as of 4 p.m., 182 people in Bohol were confirmed to have been killed in the quake while 557 others were hurt.
As of 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 12 people were reported missing, including the five children who were believed to have been trapped in 30-feet of mud, rocks and branches at the foot of Bayong Falls that collapsed during the earthquake.
Retrieval operations were ongoing but these were hampered by lack of heavy equipment.
In Loon town, policemen and personnel from the 2nd Special Forces Battalion were looking for two residents who were buried under the rubble when their house collapsed in Barangay Cantam-is Bago.
Work has started to restore the Abatan Bridge, which collasped during the quake. But since the work was ongoing, people who needed to reach the towns of Maribojoc and Loon from Cortes town would have to ride a boat to cross the Abatan River.
Ten roads still remain impassable to vehicles including Tagbilaran to Antequera to San Isidro; Tagbilaran to Maribojoc; Catigbian to San Isidro in barangay Caimbang; Loon to Calape; Balilihan to Antequera; Albur to Loay; Buenavista to Getafe; Caboy in Clarin town; Lapaz in Carmen town; and the Barangay Can-omay to Barangay Bungahan in Antequera town.
Roads going to Corella town from Tagbilaran City were opened to light vehicles.
The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have been monitoring prices of petroleum products and prime commodities following reports that unscrupulous enterpreneurs have been jacking up prices despite the price freeze.
Some gas stations were selling gasoline at P100 per liter, half of its retail price.
The DTI in Central Visayas also caught and imposed a fine on 30 retail store owners for overpricing their goods.
The agency would also conduct a “Diskwento Caravan” bringing in discounted goods to the affected towns of Antequera, Loon, Maribojoc, and Tubigon starting October 25.
The National Food Authority disbursed a total of 12,000 bags of NFA rice for relief operations and asked for 100,000 bags more from their Central Visayas office based in Cebu City.
During the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) meeting on Tuesday night, the earthquake destroyed and damaged P3.5 billion worth of infrastructure, public and private structures and churches.
Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto said most of the damage was in the 1st district with an estimate of P1.9 billion.
The first district is composed of Tagbilaran City and the towns of Alburquerque, Antequera, Baclayon, Balilihan, Calape, Catigbian, Corella, Cortes, Dauis, Loon, Maribojoc, Panglao, Sikatuna and Tubigon.
The damage to churches was pegged at P1.2 billion but the amount didn’t include the aesthetics cost.
Chatto said the damage to infrastructure reached P891 million; municipal halls, P551 million; and the hospitals, P504 million.