Despite skipping his visit to this earthquake-stricken town on Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte told the affected individuals to unite and rise to the challenges of last year.

“Let me remind the people that you are not alone and everyone is here to help. It pains me to hear the stories of suffering and I express my heartfelt sympathies and condolences over the loss of lives brought by the earthquake,” the President said in his message to the residents of Malalag and Padada towns delivered by Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian.

He also said the government’s priority is to ensure that rebuilding efforts in Mindanao are completed as soon as possible.

“Rest assured that we will continue to exert our efforts until all of you are able to recover and get back on your feet,” Duterte added.

Along with Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, the presidential son led the turnover of the PHP5-million calamity assistance to Malalag and PHP2 million to Padada.

They also distributed food packs to the earthquake victims and assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Extent of damage

About 1,250 families from the eight municipalities of Malalag town were displaced when the magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit the province on December 15.

Malalag Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) assistant Leah Frias said 487 of the displaced families from five barangays have been staying in five evacuation camps, while 763 families in three barangays are camping out near their homes.

The MSWDO report revealed that there are a total of 2,347 partially damaged houses and 111 totally damaged houses from all barangays in the municipality.

Marideth Regoner, 46, of Purok Talisay, Poblacion, Malalag said she came to the gymnasium, hoping that the visit of the President could ease their situation due to the series of earthquakes that hit the province last year.

“I and my husband have no money for the repair of our hut that was destroyed during the temblor,” said Regoner, who was with her five children.

On the other hand, some 7,421 families or 37,105 persons were affected in the 17 barangays of Padada.

Data from DSWD showed that there is only one evacuation center in Padada catering to 32 families or 110 persons.

About 3,331 houses were damaged, 347 of which were totally damaged while 2,964 were partially damaged.

DSWD’s total cost of assistance reached PHP2.85 million covering food and non-food items and crisis intervention unit. (PNA)
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