DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan (PNA file photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – Aside from roads and bridges, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wants the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to prioritize the assessment of schools and hospitals following a magnitude 7 magnitude earthquake that rocked Abra and nearby provinces in Northern Luzon on Wednesday.

DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan said the President instructed the department to inspect schools and hospitals for any damage caused by the earthquake that could endanger students, teachers, and patients and healthcare workers.

“Pina-pa-assess ni Presidente yung (The President instructed us to assess) other public buildings including school buildings, hospitals. Together with local government units (LGUs) and Department of Education (DepEd) nakikipag tulungan kami sa assessment ng mga damages sa mga eskuwelahan lalo na malapit na ang pasukan (we are coordinating on the assessment of damages of schools especially since classes are about to start,” he said in an interview over DZBB on Sunday.

The DepEd earlier said the opening of the school year 2022-2023 will be on Aug. 22.

Previously, the DPWH reported PHP491.117 million in damage to infrastructure in the Cordillera region from the earthquake.

To date, Bonoan said only two hospitals in Abra have been restricted to public.

“Mayroong isa o dalawa na ni-restrict muna namin yung pagpasok ng mga tao sa loob dahil gusto namin magkaroon pa ng more extensive technical assessment. Pero yung iba naman nakikita namin wala naman masyadong damage sa mga hospitals (There are one or two hospitals that we have restricted people from entering because we want a more extensive technical assessment. But the others do not seem to have sewerage damage),” he added.

He said the DPWH is also coordinating with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) in the rehabilitation and restoration efforts of historical sites and structures damaged by the earthquake.

Meanwhile, Bonoan said DPWH Quick Response Teams are currently clearing and reopening the remaining two national roads that are closed to traffic.

“As of 8 a.m., yung sa 21 national road sections, yung national primary at saka national secondary roads dito sa Cordillera at saka sa Region 1, dalawa na lang ang kinukumpuni namin. Eto yung Tagudin-Cervantes Road at dito sa magmula sa Ilocos Sur papunta ng Abra at saka dito naman sa Baguio-Bontoc Road (Of the 21 national roads, including national primary and national secondary roads here in Cordillera and Region 1, only two more roads are being repaired. These are the Tagudin-Cervantes Road and Baguio-Bontoc Road),” he said.

He, however, said the roads may be partially opened by Sunday afternoon.

“Ang timetable namin ngayon, siguro mamayang hapon madaanan na kahit na one lane yung mga kalsada na binanggit ko. All others nung kahapon pa cleared naman na yung mga kalsada natin (Our timetable is perhaps by this afternoon they will be passable even just one lane for the roads I mentioned. All the other roads are cleared)” he added.

In a vlog uploaded on his official Facebook page on Saturday, Marcos emphasized the importance of "disaster-proof" planning of infrastructures, after a magnitude 7 earthquake rocked Abra and nearby provinces in Northern Luzon on July 27.

He vowed that his administration would ensure the immediate restoration of damaged structures. (PNA)