Thousands of BatangueAos still reeling from quake devastation

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Calamba City-- Many among the thousands of earthquake victims in Batangas on Tuesday expressed feelings of having "penitence" this Holy Week as they are still reeling from the devastation of the earthquake on April 4 and the twin tremors on April 8.

The Calabarzon Office of Civil Defense (OCD) - Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) reported that scores of affected residents prefer to stay outdoors and in open spaces as they still expect intermittent aftershocks.

Batangas residents also said "we need intercessory prayers in these very trying times" especially this Lenten Season as they invoke God's help to help them overcome and rise from the disaster.

Tingloy town in Batangas, the epicenter of the April 4 5.5 magnitude quake, still has some 11,132 displaced residents who remain at evacuation centers in Barangays Pisa, San Isidro, Talahib, Marikaban, Corona and Gamao.

However, some evacuees of Mabini town which is the epicenter of the April 8 twin strong tremors of 5.6 and 6.0 magnitudes, have started to return homes.

More than 6,000 displaced residents in Mabini, now under a state of calamity, still remain in open spaces, evacuation centers and temporary shelters in 29 barangays.

OCD4A also reported that Batangas City's 3,317 residents are staying in nine emergency centers set up in open spaces like the city's Plaza Mabini, city conventional hall, Kumintang Ilaya community park, Libjo Elementary School, Pagkilatan, Mabacong covered court, Barangay Sta. Clara and the St. Patrick Hospital, Medical Center and Bagong Pag-asa Ward.

Patients who were earlier evacuated were reportedly returned to the hospitals in Taal, Lipa City, San Pascual and Agoncillo.

Around 345 residents in San Luis, Batangas are now housed at evacuation centers in elementary schools in Barangays Balete, Taliba and Dulangan while over a hundred evacuees are staying at the Villas Memorial Park.

Calabarzon OCD Regional Director and RDRRMC Chair Olivia M. Luces said that mobile kitchens have been deployed to Mabini, Batangas on Tuesday and are manned by the military and social welfare personnel.

To expedite relief operations and disaster management efforts, OCD 4A personnel have been deployed Tuesday in teams under Task Force Tingloy and the other as Task Force Mabini.

Luces said the composite teams include personnel from the OCD, MDRRMC, Batangas PDRRMC, DSWD, DOH and Phivolcs who are now conducting relief operations, Rapid Disaster Assessments, psychosocial processing and information and education campaigns (IEC).

She said that OCD has been coordinating with Smart Communications for setting up of community free WiFi and "Libreng Tawag" (free calls) for the affected residents and government mobilizers.

OCD4A has also coordinated air assets with the NDRRMC Operations Center including delivery and distribution of hundreds of tents, thousands of blankets, bottled water and ready-to-eat food.

Both the health and social welfare departments have mobilized field personnel to conduct psychosocial processing (PSP) and stress debriefings in cooperation with local health and social welfare offices and the Philippine Red Cross.

DOH personnel are also conducting surveillance on all evacuation centers on psychosocial processing, medical services and ensure supply of medicines and logistics.

The 202nd Brigade of the Philippine Army also deployed its personnel for the RDRRMC Operations Center and installation of emergency radio communication system.

Army troops and Red Cross workers also assist local government units in delivering tents and other non-food items to Batangas emergency operation centers.

Red Cross has been assisting the quake victims in Mabini and other affected areas with "meals on wheels" in vans positioned in evacuation centers.

The Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) is closely coordinating with local government disaster management counterparts for assistance to communities, damage assessment and analysis reports.

Cavite's combined support groups from DRRMO teams of Carmona, Alfonso and Tagaytay City are now in Mabini, Batangas to augment personnel and equipment in evacuation centers and assist in the evacuation camp management.

The provincial government of Laguna and Cavite are now sending additional tents for the evacuees and earthquake victims.

Source: Philippines News Agency