BATANGAS - Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Tuesday led a visit to quake-hit Tingloy Island to assess the damage and provide necessary assistance to the local government and affected residents.
Diokno, who came with a group of national and local officials, said he wanted to personally see the destruction brought about by the magnitude 5.5 earthquake which hit Tingloy on April 4.
The temblor was part of an earthquake swarm that hit Batangas Saturday afternoon due to the movement of a fault line in the area.
"For a faster release of the needed budget, Sec. Diokno himself visited us so he can immediately assess the situation of our kababayans," Batangas Bovernor Hermilando Mandanas said.
Accompanied by Mandanas and officials of the Office of Civil Defense and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Diokno met with Tingloy Mayor Mark Lawrence Alvarez and his constituents to discuss the immediate needs of their community.
Of Tingloy's total population of 20,000, 8,000 residents are currently at the evacuation area out of fear.
Alvarez cited the need for urgent repairs in the local water supply system, which was destroyed by Saturday's quake.
"Kailangan din po namin ng mga tent, bottled water at pagkain para sa aming mga kababayan na pansamantalang nakatira sa evacuation center," Alvarez said.
(We also need tents, bottled water and food for residents who are currently staying in the evacuation center.)
Houses, schools, churches, roads and the town's pier were among those damaged by the earthquake.
"That's why we also need cements for rehabilitation," Alvarez added.
Alvarez temporarily closed the island to tourists while facilities are undergoing repair and rehabilitation.
"Although it [has] a big negative effect on our tourism industry, it's wiser and safer to close the island for their (tourists') own protection," local officials said of the island known for beach resorts.
Batangas has been experiencing aftershocks from tremors that hit on April 4 and April 8.
Meanwhile, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, in their special session on Monday, declared a state of calamity in the towns of Tingloy, Mabini and in Batangas City.
Batangas lawmakers alloted P49.2-million for the three quake-stricken areas from their Quick Response Fund (QRF).
Batangas Vice-governor Sofronio "Nas" Ona and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has disapproved Mandanas' earlier request of declaring a state of calamity over the whole province.
"Kailangan piliin lang nila ang mga apektadong lugar sa lindol dahil kung ilalahat ang buong Batangas maapektuhan naman ang turismo ng ibang bayan kahit hindi naman sila masyadong nasira ng lindol," a staff of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who requested anonimity said.
(They have to choose the areas affected by the earthquake because if a state of calamity is declared in the whole province then tourism in other parts of Batangas may be affected even when they were affected by the earthquake.)