Duterte cancels trip to quake-hit Ormoc; Cabinet men to discuss rehab
ORMOC CITY — President Duterte has cancelled what would have been his first visit to Ormoc City, Leyte, on Monday.
The cancellation of the presidential visit was announced by Alicia Nicart, regional manager of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), during a briefing on Sunday.
There was no reason given for the postponement that was relayed by the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).
But some Cabinet secretaries were said to be coming over on Monday to meet with members of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to discuss the rehabilitation plan and response to the damage caused by the magnitude 6.5 temblor that also rocked the nearby town of Kananga last July 7.
Vina Aquino, information officer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Eastern Visayas (DSWD-8), said that their undersecretary, Hope Hervilla, would attend the meeting to represent Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
City officials were expecting President Duterte to visit Ormoc on Monday to check on the devastation caused by earthquake that killed a young mother and injured more than 100 persons here.
City administrator Vince Emnas said they were informed about the President’s visit by the staff of the Presidential Management Staff who asked the city to prepare for Mr. Duterte’s arrival.
It would have been the first visit of Mr. Duterte since he won the 2016 presidential election. Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez was among his supporters.
The magnitude 6.5 earthquake on Thursday, the strongest to hit the city in recent years, destroyed 536 houses and damaged 62 others in 12 mountain barangays.
Hardest hit was the barangay (village) of Cabaon-an where 69 families have been living in tents after their houses collapsed due to a strong tremor.
Since Thursday, 297 aftershocks have been recorded, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Classes were also expected to resume on Monday after the school buildings had been inspected and declared safe.
The City Hall grounds had been transformed into a command center where relief goods coming from different government agencies and private sector were being deposited.
Personnel from different city government departments were also around to attend to the needs of the residents.
Since the city was still without power, tents had been put up on the city hall grounds where residents could charge their cellular phones using the generator sets.
Generator sets also provided power to the four hospitals in Ormoc.
These are privately owned Ormoc Doctors’ Hospital, Ormoc Sugarcane Planters Association-Farmers Medical Center (OSPA-FMC) and Clinica Gatchalian Hospital and the government-ran Ormoc District Hospital.
Among those confined at the Clinica Gatchalian Hospital were couple Vidal and Josephine Laurente.
She and husband Vidal were preparing fried bananas when their house suddenly swayed –at first slowly and then faster.
They fell on the ground. Her right eye was hit by a falling object while a brick landed on her husband’s right shoulder.
At that time, their children, Jomvie,18 and Jessica, 21, were at school.
Their neighbors brought them to the hospital.
Vidal, who works as a fork lift operator at the Energy Development Corp., said they were just thankful that they survived the tremor.
After their discharge from the hospital, they will go home to a makeshift tent donated by the city government.
Despite the destruction left by the tremor, the city government had no plans to declare a state of calamity.
“The situation is manageable,” Emnas said.
Prices of basic goods are also being monitored to ensure that the emergency will not be taken advantage of by unscrupulous businessmen .
Emnas said that the water supply has been a problem of the city with 22,000 households.
“We get our water supply from pumping stations that are power-based and we don’t have electricity yet,” he said.
As of Sunday, many households had no water supply since only 10 of the 19 pumping stations had generator sets.
The city government assigned the two of the three generator sets lent by EDC to the pumping stations to help run the water wells.
The other generator set was in the city hall. SFM
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