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5.2 Quake Rocks Samar; Mindanao Death Toll Rises To 9

5.2 Quake Rocks Samar; Mindanao Death Toll Rises To 9
A security guard walks beside the damaged ceiling of a shopping mall in General Santos City, South Cotabato on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023 following the magnitude 6.8 earthquake earthquake that shook Mindanao. Photo by AP

A magnitude-5.2 earthquake jolted the province of Samar at past noon on Monday, Nov. 20, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Phivolcs said the quake, which occurred at 12:57 p.m., was initially recorded as magnitude-5.6.

The temblor’s epicenter was located 16 kilometers south of Calbiga.

It was felt at Intensity 5 in Borongan, Eastern Samar as well as in Calbiga and Catbalogan in Samar.

Intensity 4 was felt in Balangiga, Balangkayan and Maydolong in Eastern Samar as well as in Abuyog, Alangalang, Babatngon, Carigara, Dagami, Dulag, Jaro, La Paz, Mahaplag, Mayorga, Palo, Pastrana, Santa Fe, Tabontabon, Tacloban, Tanauan, Tolosa and Tunga in Leyte.

Phivolcs said the quake was not expected to cause damage to property, but it could generate aftershocks.

Mindanao deaths

As this developed, the number of reported deaths resulting from the magnitude 6.8 earthquake that shook parts of Mindanao on Friday, Nov. 17, has increased to nine.

Eight of the fatalities are from the Soccsksargen region in Central Mindanao, which was the most affected, while one is from the Davao region.

Latest reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said at least 15 people were injured.

The earthquake affected a total of 2,489 families or 12,885 persons from 20 barangays in the Davao region and 23 others from the Soccsksargen.

As of Monday, there were no reported missing persons, and no families or individuals were staying in any evacuation center in affected provinces and localities.

The NDRRMC’s updated situational report said a total of 826 houses were damaged, of which 97 were totally destroyed, mostly in Region 12.

So far, there are no reported assessments or any information yet for estimated damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

NDRRMC spokesman Edgar Posadas said five of the fatalities are from the province of Sarangani, though he did not confirm that these include a mother and child who were reported buried under rubble in the municipality of Glan.

He said that three of those who died are from South Cotabato and one is from Davao Occidental, with the ninth fatality reported only on Monday morning also coming from Sarangani.

Posadas, in an interview over CNN Philippines, said the number of those injured is expected to rise as reports from the ground continue to be gathered.

State of calamity?

While it remains a possibility, Sarangani Gov. Rogelio Pacquiao said a state of calamity over the province of Sarangani may no longer be needed following the magnitude 6.8 earthquake.

In an interview on “One Balita Pilipinas” over One PH on Monday, Pacquiao admitted their provincial government remains “undecided” over a wider declaration as at least two towns need to declare their own state of calamity first.

Noong umikot po tayo sa mga particularly doon sa most affected na municipality…ang Glan, parang nagkonsidera na magdedeklara ngayong araw ng state of calamity. And ‘yung isang bayan, ongoing ang assessment as of this time, (When we inspected the most affected municipalities…Glan’s municipal council was considering declaring a state of calamity [on Monday]. Meanwhile, another town’s assessment is ongoing),” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao disclosed that most provincial roads remain “stable,” along with food and power supplies in Sarangani. Earlier, he said they were OK, noting the efficiency of local government units and regional agencies in helping the province’s residents.

“So as of this time, masasabi ko na hindi na po kailangan magdeklara ng state of calamity province-wide sa Sarangani (I can say that we do not need a province-wide state of calamity in Sarangani),” the governor said.

Last Friday, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck off the coast of Sarangani, and mostly affected Region 11 (Davao Region) and Region 12 (Soccsksargen). Glan was the lone municipality which suffered an intensity 7 quake.

Based on the NDRRMC’s situational report on Monday, 612 families and 3,230 individuals have been affected by the earthquake in Sarangani. There were 612 houses that were damaged in the province, 536 of which were partially damaged, and 76 were totally damaged. Twenty-four public infrastructures were also damaged in the province, which consisted of 15 government facilities, one church and eight schools.

Out of nine Sarangani roads, six have a single functioning lane, while three are now passable to all types of vehicles. Their four bridges remain passable to all types of vehicles based on the report.

On “One Balita Pilipinas,” Pacquiao said at least six people have been killed in Sarangani. He also said Vice President Sara Duterte visited them and extended support for the affected families.

For the schools, Pacquiao said they are waiting for the report of the Department of Education’s Sarangani office. But he said Duterte already committed to help as DepEd secretary.

Pacquiao said the National Housing Authority will help rehabilitate the destroyed houses in Sarangani.

Pacquiao assured the public they were able to provide basic services, and commended the Department of Social Welfare’s (DSWD) Region 12 office for their work. The governor also recognized some non-government agencies that gave assistance to some Sarangani towns.

Marcos ‘concerned’ – VP

President Marcos is “very concerned” about the earthquake that hit Mindanao last week, Duterte said on Sunday, Nov. 19, as she visited the quake-affected areas in the region.

Duterte said Marcos expressed his appreciation for the quick response of all concerned government agencies following the earthquake.

The Vice President visited funeral homes, hospitals and several other establishments in Sarangani province and General Santos City as the country’s caretaker, while Marcos is in the US for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

She said all Filipinos should take the disaster as a wake-up call to bolster their disaster preparedness at the household level.

“Taking care of our families, having emergency kits and having a disaster plan are important to save ourselves and our loved ones,” Duterte said.

She said the Marcos administration is “deeply distraught” over the deaths and the destruction brought by the earthquake.

“I extend my sincere condolences and we have also given financial assistance to all the families currently facing the challenges brought by the disaster,” Duterte said.

“I also extend the condolences of President BBM as his caretaker while he is abroad for his work,” she added.

DOLE assistance

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is readying assistance to workers affected by the strong quake in Sarangani, Davao Occidental.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said he has directed the DOLE’s regional office to undertake the assessment to determine the necessary assistance.

“The DOLE will extend assistance to the earthquake victims through our program like TUPAD (Tulong Panghanap-buhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced workers),” Laguesma noted.

Laguesma said he is awaiting the report from the regional office on how much budget shall be allocated for the implementation of TUPAD and other appropriate assistance.

Aside from emergency employment, DOLE may also extend skills training and livelihood assistance to displaced workers.

DSWD aid

Meanwhile, more than P11 million in assistance have been given by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to victims of the Mindanao earthquake.

According to DSWD Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez, they have mobilized the agency’s field offices to provide immediate assistance to the victims to allow them to get back on their feet at the soonest possible time.

He said the DSWD had intensified its coordination with the local government units in the “swift delivery” of family food packs (FFPs) and cash aid under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.

Data showed the DSWD, through its Davao region field office, had distributed some 1,015 FFPs to the affected families in the municipalities of Don Marcelino and Sarangani.

On the other hand, the field office for Soccsksargen also extended some 8,200 food boxes to the provincial government of Sarangani, the municipality of Glan and General Santos City.

“Aside from food packs, the department also extended cash aid to address the urgent needs of the affected families. This will help them purchase other items and things they need,” Lopez noted.

Up to 2,317 beneficiaries from General Santos City and the municipalities of Glan and Malapatan in Saragani received outright cash assistance from the DSWD.

“The DSWD remains steadfast in our mission to provide timely and efficient assistance to communities affected by the earthquake,” he added.

In a separate interview on “One Balita Pilipinas,” Lopez bared they have given P10,000 each to the families of eight initial casualties. Besides financial aid, Lopez said there would also be psychosocial counseling for these families to help them cope with their losses. – With Miriam Desacada, Jose Rafael Ballecer, Mayen Jaymalin, Sheila Crisostomo, Neil Jayson Servallos