Abra mayor asks for more firetrucks, ambulance after Luzon earthquake

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2022 02:04 PM

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Video from PTV 

MANILA — A mayor from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s stronghold in northern Luzon sought his help in boosting disaster response with additional ambulances and firetrucks on Thursday, a day after a magnitude 7 earthquake rattled the area. 

"This time, siguro naman po open na po lahat 'yung request namin because may Ilocano president na kami and we delivered 96 percent of the votes of Abra during the last election," La Paz Mayor Joseph Bernos told Marcos during a situation briefing in Abra province, the quake's epicenter. 

"Tingin ko, kami naman po ang maniningil ngayon," the local official added, drawing chuckles. 

(Perhaps all our requests are open this time because we already have an Ilocano president and we delivered 96 percent of the votes for you in Abra last election. I think it is our turn now to collect.) 

Bernos said the province only had 4 firetrucks on "top condition" while the others were already "dilapidated." 

Strong earthquakes could start fires, the mayor noted. 

"Yung iba nga po na firetrucks nila panahon pa po ng tatay niyo na firetruck 'yon. That was 30 some years ago. So hinihiling ko po na palakasin ang disaster response ng LGUs," Bernos told Marcos. 

(Some of the firetrucks were still from your father's time. So I am asking that we strengthen our local governments' disaster response.)

Abra also needs more ambulances, which local officials had requested from previous administrations, Bernos said. 

"Lagi po kaming lumuluhod sa PCSO for ambulance," he said. 

(We always beg the PCSO for ambulances.) 

Marcos said said national official would "look into" the issues Bernos raised. 

"The problem of firetruck and ambulance is worse here in Abra than in other provinces. Medyo naiwanan kayo when it comes to that ano. Ito ang ating mga legislators," the President said. 

(You have been left out on that. We have our legislators here.) 

At least 5 people were killed and more than 150 injured when a shallow but powerful quake struck the lightly populated province of Abra on Wednesday morning. 

The earthquake rippled across the mountainous area, toppling buildings, triggering landslides and shaking high-rise towers hundreds of kilometers away in the capital Manila. 

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo during briefing said nearly a thousand families or around 20,000 people were affected by the quake. 

Some families have been given modular tents to stay in. Marcos Jr has urged people to wait for their homes to be inspected before moving back. 

Marcos Jr, who took office last month, arrived in Bangued on Thursday to inspect the damage and discuss the response effort with government, military and disaster officials. 

More than 800 aftershocks have been recorded since the quake hit, including 24 that were strong enough to feel, the local seismological agency said.

Aftershocks were expected to continue for "several weeks", Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told a briefing presided over by Marcos Jr.

There would be "a lot" in the first three days, then "hopefully it will decline afterwards", he said.

 — With a report from Mikhail Flores and Ron Lopez, Agence France-Presse