MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said it was not yet necessary to declare a state of national calamity or emergency following the strong earthquake that rattled Luzon on Wednesday.
A state of national calamity will control the prices of basic goods and allow local governments to tap their calamity funds.
"Ang SOP (standard operating procedure) d'yan, ang state of national calamity 'pag apektado ang 3 region, automatic actually... Hindi naman naapektuhan ang 3," Marcos told reporters in a Palace briefing.
(The SOP for a state of national calamity is if 3 regions are affected, it is declared automatically. Affected areas did not reach 3 regions.)
He said most of the earthquake damage was reported so far in Ilocos Region and the Cordilleras.
"I don't think it's necessary right now to declare a national emergency," Marcos added.
"However, depending on the information that comes back, I'm sure marami pa tayong mababalitaan, marami pang mga impormasyon na hindi nakarating sa atin, baka mangyari 'yun. I hope not," he said.
(I'm sure we have many pieces of information have yet to reach us, so it might happen.)
Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said some 218 towns in 15 provinces were affected by the earthquake. These provinces were in Regions 1, 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region, he said.
The quake has reportedly left 4 people dead, Abalos said in the same briefing.
The shallow 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the mountainous and lightly populated province of Abra at 8:43 a.m. and shook high-rise towers more than 300 kilometers away in Metro Manila.
Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones. This one left scores of people injured, triggered landslides, damaged churches, and knocked out power.
The Philippines is regularly rocked by quakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Wednesday's quake was the strongest recorded in the Philippines in years.
It was followed by more than 200 aftershocks, the local seismological agency said. Several of the subsequent quakes measured from magnitude 4.7 to 4.9, according to USGS.
— With a report from Mikhail Flores, Agence France-Presse