DSWD assures aid for Mindanao quake victims; reported deaths rise to 7

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Saturday assured families and individuals affected by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit parts of Mindanao of timely assistance in the form of cash, food and non-food items, among others. DSWD Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel Lopez made the assurance during the weekly Saturday News Forum at Dapo Restaurant in Quezon City. Lopez, also the DSWD spokesperson, said the agency is currently assessing the situation in the hard-hit regions, through its Regional Field Offices (FOs) and other government agencies, to identify the needs of the affected individuals, including the families of those who were killed or injured. 'Nakahanda po iyong ating mga Emergency Cash Transfer, nakahanda iyong ating AICS (Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation) to assist iyong ating mga kababayan na may masisirang kabahayan (Our ECT and AICS programs are ready to assist our countrymen whose houses were damaged),' he said. Under AICS, Lopez sai d the agency will distribute up to PHP10,000. 'But then, when it comes talaga sa pagtulong for you na ipatayo iyong inyong tahanan, interagency na po ito - kasama na iyong DHSUD (Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development) dito at iba pa pong mga ahensiya ng gobyerno (in rebuilding the houses, it will be an interagency task - the DHSUD and other concerned government agencies will be working together),' Lopez said. Aside from financial aid, Lopez assured the affected families that the DSWD and its FOs will immediately distribute family food packs (FFPs) and non-food items such as hygiene kits, and sleeping kits, among others. He said the DSWD has PHP1.43 billion worth of food and non-food items readily available, including PHP29.16 million quick response fund that field offices may tap immediately. He added that at least PHP14.2 million standby fund is available at DSWD field offices in Northern Mindanao, Davao, and Soccsksargen. 'With the prepositioned asset of the DSWD, we can ensure the time ly assistance to our kababayans (countrymen) affected. Ang ating response ay nakahanda (Our response is ready),' Lopez said. Reported deaths rise to 7 The reported fatalities have climbed to seven, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said. In a statement, the NDRRMC said it is validating reports that one died in Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental; one in Malapatan, Sarangani; two in Glan, Sarangani; and three in General Santos. Two are also missing in Glan while two were injured in General Santos, the agency said. As of this posting, some 450 persons were given medical care due to hyperventilation and panic from Davao Region and Soccsksargen. A total of 32 damaged infrastructures in Davao City, Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur, General Santos, South Cotabato and Sarangani were also reported. Meanwhile, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. ordered the deployment of 292 fire trucks, 17 ambulances, nine rescue vehicles and almost 1,800 emergency perso nnel to provide assistance to the victims. 'Kasunod ng direktiba ni Pangulong Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. ay inatasan ko partikular ang Bureau of Fire Protection na magpadala ng mga tauhan para ma-assess ang mga pinsala sa mga gusali at iba pang imprastaktura, pati na rin mga medical team para tulungan ang ating mga kababayang nasaktan dahil sa lindol (Following President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.'s directive. I specifically instructed the Bureau of Fire Protection to send personnel to assess the damage to buildings and other infrastructure, as well as medical teams to help our citizens who were injured due to the earthquake),' Abalos said in a statement on Saturday. He also instructed local chief executives and the police force to stay alert in providing assistance and ensuring the safety of the public in the quake-affected areas. Abalos appealed to the earthquake-affected residents to observe and follow the government's advisories and to remain alert and on guard as aftershocks are likely to happen. Meanwhi le, police officials in Mindanao already reported five fatalities and 300 injured who were mostly students and mall workers. In a radio interview Saturday, Col. Nicomedes Olaivar, Gen. Santos City police director, Olaivar said a couple in Barangay San Isidro was pinned to death when a concrete wall collapsed after the tremor. He identified the victims as Danny Ginung, 26, and his wife Jane, 18, both from Barangay Sinawal but temporarily residing at the Amadeo compound in Barangay San Isidro. Olaivar also said a female salon worker, Winefreda Flores, 45, died when she was hit by a steel beam of the collapsed ceiling in the third floor of SM City GenSan. 'She expired while undergoing medication about six hours after the quake,' Olaivar said. Olaivar said students at a cheering competition inside the Lagao gymnasium were hurt when they rushed to leave. Gen. Santos City Mayor Lorelie Pacquiao suspended weekend classes in all levels as the city engineering office conducted an assessment and evaluation of a ll public school buildings. The Police Regional Office-Soccsksargen (PRO-12) likewise reported that a pastor in Barangay Suyan, Malapatan and a hardware store owner in Glan, both in Sarangani province, also died. The pastor was hit by fallen rocks while the hardware store owner was hit by a heavy steel bar in the head, the PRO-12 said. Infrastructure, buildings assessment The Office of Civil Defense-12 said evaluation and assessment of government and private structures, including town halls, are continuing. Five major malls in Gen. Santos and Koronadal City sustained cracks and damage -- KCC of GenSan, Gaisano Mall, and Robinsons in Gen. Santos City; and KCC of Marbel and Gaisano Grand-Koronadal. In Koronadal City, at least five were reported hurt, specifically at KCC Marbel and Ace Centerpoint shopping malls, by collapsed ceiling parts. Source: Philippines News Agency