#ReliefPH: Earthquake-hit Batangas island needs food, water

disaster response
DISASTER RESPONSE. Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo flies to the town with the most number of affected families after an earthquake swarm hit Batangas province. Photo by Voltaire Tupaz/Rappler

‘We will immediately deliver water and additional food packs even on Holy Thursday,’ says Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo

BATANGAS, Philippines (Apr. 12, 2017) — Irene de Austria, a mother of 3, was still terrified as she recalled how her family ran into open space when the ground shook violently last Saturday, April 8.

Parang inuugoy ho, at biglang ibinabagsak. Matindi ho,” said De Austria, a resident of Tingloy, an island town in Batangas, which was hit by what Phivolcs called an earthquake swarm.

(It felt like we were being rocked and then dropped suddenly. It was strong.)

She could still hear her heart pounding, De Austria said, even as the chanting of the Pasyon (The Passion of Christ) reverberated across the town center on Holy Wednesday, April 12.

In an open kiosk, Catholic devotees took turns reading the epic poem on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in observance of Holy Week. They used to read the Pasyon in the town hall, Mayor Lawrence Alvarez said, but the earthquakes caused damage to the building and other structures including houses.

Tingloy recorded the highest number of families affected by the earthquake swarm in Batangas – at least 3,300 families or 12,300 residents.

Displaced families

De Austria and her family have not yet returned home, fearing that their house might collapse anytime. Saturday’s magnitude 5.6 and magnitude 6.0 earthquakes caused cracks on their walls. Broken glasses and other objects remain scattered inside their home.

At least 1,200 other houses in Tingloy are partially damaged, while more than 100 are totally damaged, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The town’s urgent needs include food, drinking water, medicines, generators, and shelter assistance, Mayor Alvarez said.

DSWD’s response

On Wednesday, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, together with Assistant Secretary Anton Hernandez, flew to Tingloy to personally check the situation of the residents here.

In a meeting with the mayor, other local officials, and social workers, Taguiwalo gave assurances that the agency will provide water and additional family food packs to the town.

“We will immediately deliver water and additional food packs even on Holy Thursday… Since it’s disaster situation, we will take care of transportation costs,” Taguiwalo told local officials.

The DSWD has already extended a total of P1,598,296 worth of relief assistance to the affected families in the province in the form of tents, blankets, bottled water, and ready-to-eat food.

A total of 6,247 families or 27,437 individuals have been displaced across Batangas, the DSWD said.

More than 6,000 families or about 27,000 individuals are taking shelter in 62 evacuation centers while 123 families or 529 people chose to stay with relatives or friends, like De Austria.


  by Voltaire Tupaz | Rappler.com