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Duterte orders speedy rehab of quake-hit areas

/ 05:46 AM January 01, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered concerned government agencies to speed up the rehabilitation of communities in Mindanao which were devastated by a string of earthquakes in recent months.

“I gave marching orders to hasten the repair and rehabilitation efforts so that we may help those affected resume their normal lives and bring them renewed hope in the coming year,” he said in a visit to Digos City on Monday afternoon.

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The President handed over P10 million to the Davao del Sur provincial government, after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck Matanao, Davao del Sur, in December.

He added: “Let me take this occasion to extend our assistance in the rebuilding of Mindanao. It pains me to hear that more than 80,000 families were devastated by the recent earthquakes that struck Matanao, Davao del Sur.”

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Mr. Duterte made the remarks during the 60th anniversary of Cor Jesu College, where he turned over checks for earthquake victims.

Earlier in the day, the President distributed aid to earthquake victims in M’lang, Cotabato.

He also plans to visit Malalag and Padada towns in Davao del Sur, which were also damaged by recent earthquakes. Mr. Duterte said he also wanted housing projects in the two towns for the earthquake victims.

Davao del Sur governor Douglas Cagas said the P10 million would be used to purchase land and build homes for earthquake victims in the province.

During his visit to M’lang, the President told the residents that he might order the construction of 1,000 condominium units for the affected residents.

‘Very challenging’

He lamented that the past year was “very challenging for many Filipinos, especially to my fellow Mindanaoans,” noting the string of disasters that hit the region.

“The earthquakes were just over here, then Typhoon ‘Ursula’ came in. These natural disasters are shameless. I pity the Filipino people. Actually I have to find time to visit the other areas: Tacloban again, Mindoro, and the other islands, even Bacolod,” Mr. Duterte said.

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He apologized to the earthquake victims for not being able to check on their condition immediately, saying he was busy dealing with the water crisis in Metro Manila.

Evacuees from neighboring towns of Tulunan, Arakan and Makilala and Kidapawan City, some of them skipping breakfast, patiently waited for the President, who arrived three hours late of schedule.

“Despite the circumstances, we must carry on,” the President told the evacuees. “In solidarity, I joined the survivors of the earthquake in Mindanao who are with us today … I acknowledge the local government of Cotabato and the national government agencies for assisting earthquake victims and their families during their time of need. I assure you that the government will continue to help all of you until you are able to get back on your feet and start anew with renewed hope and greater capacity to live dignified lives,” he added.

The President also commiserated with those who lost family members during the series of quakes that already claimed more than 22 lives in Cotabato province alone and injured hundreds.

“I share your grief,” he said. “Kaya ako nandito, pinilit ko (That’s why, I am here, I forced myself to) and I must apologize. I am very sorry that I could not be here immediately, marami akong problema sa Maynilad, busy ako sa mga water concessionaires,” he said.

“I hope that the assistance that I gave you today will make you feel the warmth and joy of the Christmas season despite your current situation,” he said. “Be assured that this administration will stay true to its promise of embodying ‘tapang and malasakit’ for all, especially those who are most in need,” said the President, who later flew to Padada in Davao del Sur to also distribute food aid and financial assistance to another group of quake victims.

The Cotabato provincial disaster risk reduction and management council said that during the Dec. 15 earthquake alone, 14,569 families were displaced in the province with 6,676 of them still in evacuation centers.—WITH REPORTS FROM ORLANDO DINOY, WILLIAMOR MAGBANUA and EDWIN O. FERNANDEZ

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