No Lenten break for gov’t relief operations to quake-affected areas

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna, April 12 (PNA) — Government relief assistance and operations continue despite the Lenten holidays from Maundy Thursday (April 13) to Easter Sunday (April 16) for earthquake victims and displaced residents in Batangas.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD4A) Calabarzon and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) assured of collaborative actions for continued provisions of food, bottled water, clothes, blankets and tent shelters by government agencies to evacuees.

Georgina Garcia, OCD4A-RDRRMC public information officer, disclosed that DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo visited Tingloy island residents on Holy Wednesday to assure residents there of continuous government relief operations in view of the earthquake swarm that occurred in Batangas.

PHIVOLCS has since described the tremors that jolted Batangas and parts of the Calabarzon Region as “earthquake swarm” which refers to the sequences of earthquakes striking in varying duration from a short period of time, days, weeks to even months.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Undersecretary Ricardo Halad accompanied by Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas also inspected damaged structures and disaster assessments early this week.

Garcia said that Tingloy residents are in need of food and water because they are isolated and islanders and government relief operations have been mobilized there.

OCD-RDRRMC sustained its Red Alert Status since the series of strong earthquakes struck Tingloy and Mabini in Batangas five days apart.

Civil defense and DRRMC offices are also placed on heightened alert in view of the Holy Week observance to ensure safety and security throughout the Calabarzon Region.

Towns of Mabini, Tingloy and city of Batangas were already placed under “State of Calamity” after the earthquake swarm with the main shocks on April 4 and 8, respectively.

Mabini Mayor Noel Luistro said that the town is now under a state of calamity in response to the immediacy to ease the suffering of the affected residents. He added that their priority is the clearing of village roads.

Luistro, however, announced that his town is still open for tours despite the “state of calamity declaration” and told resort owners that tourism activities are allowed like diving, snorkeling and swimming during the Lenten holiday break.

Tingloy Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (MDRRMO) Evangeline Garcia also told PNA that the town of Tingloy is also under a state of calamity following the town legislative council’s passage of a Council Resolution 41 series of 2017.

The Batangas City Legislative Council also held its special session and passed a resolution upon recommendation by City Mayor Beverly Rose Dimacuha through Executive Order no. 9 series of 2017 and damage assessments by both the City Engineering Office and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC).

Mayor Dimacuha said the declaration of a state of calamity for the city was prompted by “the urgent need to employ emergency measures to hasten the restoration of affected properties and infrastructure, reinforce the city’s preparedness for a similar calamity and aid the constituents to return to their normal living.” Robert Maico/