DSWD: Some Abra schools still serve as evacuation sites after quake
BAGUIO CITY — Four Abra schools were still serving as evacuation centers just days before the opening of the new school year on August 22, an official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Wednesday.
Among these was Supo National High School, which currently housed 21 families, or 58 individuals, from Barangay Supo in Abra’s Tubo town, said Enrique Gascon Jr., the DSWD assistant director for the Cordillera, at a press briefing on Wednesday.
Gascon said the displaced residents live in an “unsafe” area in their village, citing a post-quake assessment by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
These houses are situated near a mountain with tension cracks that geologists detected following the magnitude 7 temblor that killed 10 people and injured 573 others in the Cordillera region on July 27, said Frankie Cortez, chief of operations of the Office of Civil Defense in Cordillera.
Abra continued to experience aftershocks, prompting residents to stay vigilant, Cortez said.
But the frequency and intensity of the latest tremors have started to slow down based on remote monitoring by Phivolcs, he added.The southwest monsoon rains also remained a threat to saturated mountains throughout the Cordillera, Cortez said.
He also said COVID-19 cases have started to rise in towns rocked by the massive earthquake.
As of Wednesday, Abra had been treating 62 active COVID-19 cases. All over the Cordillera, the number of active cases stood at 976.
Gascon said the DSWD has been communicating with the Department of Education (DepEd) and may move 206 families to “transitional” shelters before August 22.
He said Tubo has identified a meadow as a transitional site for the families, and village leaders were preparing to build community kitchens and comfort rooms for them.
Aside from Supo National High School, Sagap Elementary School in Bangued town has taken in 86 families, or 320 residents.
In the municipality of Villaviciosa, Lumaba Integrated School in Ap-Apaya village has accommodated 19 displaced families (44 people), while Villaviciosa Central School in Poblacion village was a temporary shelter for 77 families (216 people).
Abra mayors and Rep. Menchi Bernos have asked Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte to postpone the school opening in the quake-ravaged province to give the municipalities time to prepare for the recovery operations.
That petition was still being studied by DepEd, Cortez said.
In an earlier assessment, he said 293 classrooms in the region were destroyed by the quake, 233 of which were in Abra.
The province has now shifted to a recovery phase, but must review its building policies, Gascon said. —VINCENT CABREZA
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