Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) over the weekend to set up checkpoints in quake-affected areas in Mindanao to properly record the arrival of goods and relief workers.
Lorenzana, head of government relief efforts in Davao del Sur and North Cotabato, also informed local authorities of the proper management of evacuation centers.
“I have also directed the military to remove people from the highways begging and blocking vehicles bringing relief goods and bring them to their communities so they can be properly attended to,” Lorenzana said.
Relief organizations can leave their donations to troops for distribution to the affected families or if they want to do it themselves, military units can direct them to areas needing their assistance, he added.
The Army, has already deployed a task force in Kidapawan, Cotabato to coordinate the military’s operation with ongoing government relief operations.
“I have also directed an engineering contingent to proceed to the area to help in rescue and recovery (operations),” he said.
“For the other needed supplies such as water containers, some donors are currently procuring them here in Manila and will be transported to Davao together with other supplies in a couple of days. All our efforts are in coordination with the acting provincial governor who has taken charge of the whole relief operation,” Lorenzana said. “There are sufficient relief goods available. It’s just a matter of properly distributing them.”
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Ricardo Jalad said there was no humanitarian crisis, after TV reports showed residents flagging down cars by the road side asking for food and water.
“There is no humanitarian crisis,” Jalad said in Filipino. The market, he said, continues to function, and those with money can buy the goods. “Our problem is with those who don’t have the money,” he said in Filipino.
The death toll in two powerful quakes that struck the southern Philippines in the past week has risen to 21, authorities said Sunday, as survivors struggled to access food and water.
The 6.6-magnitude and 6.5-magnitude quakes hit the island of Mindanao two days apart, destroying buildings and displacing tens of thousands of residents.
Some villagers staying under tents near a highway were begging for help from passing motorists, carrying placards asking for food and water, TV footage showed.
Rescuers had found more bodies, many crushed by falling debris and landslides caused by the violent shaking, the national disaster council said.
The quakes also left 432 residents injured with two people still missing, it added.
Thursday’s big quake was the third since mid-October in the Mindanao region, which makes up a third of the Philippines.
Temporary shelters have been set up to house more than 20,000 displaced individuals — many already there since the first quake struck on October 16, leaving seven people dead.
On Sunday, rescuers continued their evacuation of families whose houses were endangered by landslides, while several residents trapped in mountainous villages had been airlifted to safety.
The government said aid has reached affected communities and instructed people sleeping near the road to go to evacuation centers for help.
The Philippines suffers regular tremors as part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
In related developments:
• Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Sunday vowed to conduct public hearings on pending legislative measures to boost preparedness against calamities and address them when they occurred.
• Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who was spending time in his hometown in Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur, said the trembling he experienced on Tuesday, Oct. 29, was the strongest of all the ground movements hitting Mindanao in the last few days. – Macon Ramos-Araneta, PNA