MANILA– President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday visited quake-hit Ormoc City in Leyte to check on relief efforts, as he sought to assure affected residents that government is on top of the situation.
In a meeting with Cabinet and local government officials, Duterte lamented that the Philippines “has suffered enough in terms of natural and man-made calamities.”
“People are suffering,” he said.
The President said Filipinos have already accepted that the Philippines is disaster-prone. The country is among the world's most vulnerable to disasters.
Just over three years ago, the Visayas faced unprecedented devastation wrought by Supertyphoon Yolanda, the strongest to ever hit land.
“Forget it. You better sleep soundly. If it’s your time, it’s your time,” Duterte said in jest.
“Just pray to God it will happen to somebody else’s territory. Huwag na sa atin dito.”
Duterte, meanwhile, assured affected residents that government will do its best to address their needs.
“I’m satisfied with the reports and actions taken. I hope we’ve done something to show to the people that government is working,” he said.
“There is a government, a functioning one, and your money is protected and everything will be put to good use,” the President said.
At least two people died and 351 were injured after a 6.5-magnitude quake jolted Leyte on July 6. The quake displaced at least 374 people and damaged homes, public facilities and commercial buildings.
The Leyte quake is just the latest in a string of temblors that recently hit the Philippines, which sits on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions frequently occur.
In February, a 6.5-magnitude quake killed eight people and left more than 250 injured outside the southern city of Surigao.
The following month, a 5.9-magnitude tremor killed one in the same area.
Before the Surigao quakes, the last fatal earthquake to hit the Philippines was a 7.1-magnitude tremor that left more than 220 people dead and destroyed historic churches in Bohol and Cebu in October 2013.
Quakes also hit Luzon in April.
The Philippines is also visited by an average of 20 cyclones a year, some deadly and destructive.
In December, Duterte led the state's response to Typhoon Nina, visiting Catanduanes and Camarines Sur after the storm him during the Christmas weekend.