PNoy assures aid to Visayas quake victims
SEOUL—President Aquino assured victims of the earthquake that devastated Bohol, Cebu and other areas of government's help.
He said DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda are visiting Bohol on Friday to ensure that affected residents have enough supply of food and water.
A C-130 plane and 2 Coast Guard vessels, he said, have been earmarked to deliver goods to Cebu where the repacking of relief items would be done.
He said that 3,000 food packs and water bottles have reached Bohol Thursday.
Aquino, meantime, is urging retail establishments to resume operations to give residents access to important supplies.
He said that the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers is sending 12 of its members to help local engineers check on the safety and structural integrity of buildings and stores in affected areas.
Aquino also reminded business establishments of the price freeze that is in effect on basic goods in places that have been placed under a state of calamity.
“We touched based with the LGUs, specifically with Governor (Edgar) Chatto to talk to the mayors to help convince their businessmen to resume operations and to coordinate para prioritization sino ‘yung nakakita ng crack sa kanilang establishment, ‘yun ang mapa-check kaagad. Tapos ’yung others naman na ‘pag okay na, sana magbukas naman sana. Tapos may warning din yesterday. Parang na-notice ng DTI na nagtataas ng presyo ng tubig. Pinaalala na kasama na sa basic commodities ‘yung tubig, at which point, ‘pag dineclare na may calamity, frozen ang prices. ‘Pag nagtaas ka, may penalties ‘yun,” Aquino said.
Aquino is also hoping that candidates for the barangay elections will not use the situation for political purposes or to campaign.
“Sana hindi naman gawing political campaign ‘yung mechanism,” he said.
Aquino expressed appreciation for some legislators’ desire to increase government’s the calamity fund following the massive earthquake that hit parts of Visayas. He said that government is first determining the cost of the damage caused by the earthquake and the kind of rehabilitation that is needed.
Aquino said there is about P1.37 billion remaining in the calamity fund for this year.
Senator Bam Aquino has reportedly proposed that P15 billion in rehabilitation funds be included in the 2014 budget for the rehabilitation of structures damaged by the earthquake.
President Aquino said the DPWH will be using for now its “quick reaction funds” to build temporary bridges as replacement to damaged ones in Bohol.
He said that it would take 3 to 4 weeks to put up the replacement for three of the most heavily damaged bridges while it would take one week to replace 11 others.
“Afterwards, may assessment nga. Do we put that back there? Do we replace it somewhere else? Doon lalabas ‘yung totals kung ano ang kakailanganin. Pero ulitin ko lang, hindi naman dahil pinsan ko si Bam but if they are giving us that elbow room to be able to work with, thank you. Sign of support for this. At this present time, I don’t have the data that says we need that amount right now,” Aquino said of his cousin’s proposal.