3 Cabinet execs sent to Bohol | Inquirer News

3 Cabinet execs sent to Bohol

/ 01:42 AM October 19, 2013

President Benigno Aquino III on Friday ordered three Cabinet officials to Bohol amid reports that relief had not yet reached many villages four days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the island province.

Malacañang also authorized the release of P97.5 million in “standby funds and stockpiles” for relief and rescue in Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Davao, the regions hit by the earthquake on Tuesday.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda flew to Loon and Carmen and other devastated towns in Bohol, the epicenter of the powerful earthquake.


The three officials presided over a coordination meeting in the morning with local and provincial officials and with United Nations Resident Coordinator Luiza Carvalho in Tagbilaran City before flying to Loon and Carmen, according to deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.


Residents of the two towns and of Maribojoc and Loboc had complained about the absence of the government as the people of Bohol suffered in evacuation centers.

The residents tried to survive on their own without relief, water and electricity until help finally arrived on Thursday.

But the aid they received was too little, they said.

Valte said the Palace called the coordination meeting following reports that relief workers were struggling to bring aid to many towns isolated by landslides and roads badly damaged by the earthquake.

She said the coordination meeting was to identify the damaged roads and find alternative routes to reach the isolated communities.

Valte said the government was now airlifting and carrying aid by ships to expedite delivery of relief to those communities.


Navy brings relief

Four Philippine Navy ships with relief goods and a water-filtration system arrived in Bohol after midnight Friday.

The water purifier from the Albay provincial government “is capable of converting unsanitized water into reliable drinking water” and could produce some 32,000 liters of potable water per hour, said Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic.

The Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol) based in Legazpi also deployed an eight-man team to lead the water sanitation group of the humanitarian mission from Albay.

Two other Navy ships are waiting in Cebu to load relief goods for the earthquake victims, Fabic said.

At a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council meeting yesterday, Mara Baviera of the Departmentof Education’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said the agency was starting to organize psychosocial support for thousands of teachers and students in Bohol and Cebu.

Baviera said the effort would be carried out in coordination with the Department of Health, as teachers needed to be trained how to help debrief their fellow teachers and their students who were traumatized by the earthquake.

She said there were more than 3,000 public schools in Cebu and Bohol alone.

Help from Church

The social arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has joined the relief effort, allocating P400,000 to supplement relief operations by two dioceses in Bohol.

Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-Nassa), reported yesterday that the Dioceses of Bohol and Talibon have been using their resources to respond to the needs of the quake victims in their jurisdiction.

Gariguez said the CBCP-Nassa and Caritas Philippines were coordinating with the two dioceses for boosting their relief efforts.

Also coming to the quake victims’ aid is the United States, whose embassy in Manila announced yesterday $50,000 (P2.15 million) in aid through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to be released as soon as the US government received fresh funding after nearly a monthlong shutdown.

The US Embassy said it was also in touch with the Philippine government to assess further assistance to the quake survivors.

Dwindling calamity fund

The government would need all help it could get, as President Aquino’s calamity fund is dwindling fast.

Malacañang is considering using government savings to continue funding relief and rehabilitation efforts in Bohol and Cebu.

The status of the calamity fund, a special-purpose lump-sum item in the national budget, was raised when the President met with reporters yesterday on the sidelines of his two-day visit to South Korea.

“Something like P1.37 billion, I think, is remaining in the calamity fund,” Mr. Aquino said.

That would not be enough with the increasing number of disasters and calamities brought by climate change hitting the country.

The 2013 budget contains P7.50 billion for calamities and P1 billion for contingencies.

The two funds are part of the P957.77 billion special purpose fund.

Sen. Bam Aquino, the President’s cousin, has proposed a P15-billion fund for the immediate rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure in Bohol and Cebu.

Mr. Aquino thanked his cousin, but said he did not have the information he needed to be able to say whether the government needed that amount.

Status being checked

At a briefing for reporters in the Palace yesterday, Valte said officials were looking into the status of the calamity fund and the contingency fund.

The Office of the Vice President yesterday contributed to the relief effort, distributing 1,000 food packs and 7,000 bottles of water in Cebu City

Staff of Vice President Jejomar Binay also handed out 12,000 bags of relief and 1,000 gallons of water in Maribojoc, Sagbayan, San Isidro, Baclayon and other towns in Bohol. With reports from Nikko Dizon, Jocelyn R. Uy, Tarra Quismundo and Jerome Aning



Aquino: Help is on the way

Relief goods reaching Bohol hardly enough for suffering families

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US Embassy donates $50,000 for relief operations for Bohol quake victims

TAGS: Bohol, Carmen town, Loboc, Loon town, Malacañang, Mar Roxas, Maribojoc

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