(Photo courtesy of PIA-Abra)

MANILA – A total of 20,533 houses in Northern Luzon were heavily damaged by the magnitude 7 earthquake that jolted the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Kalinga Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, and Mountain Province on July 27.

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) assured during the “Laging Handa” public briefing on Monday that its local shelter cluster teams and regional offices are on the ground and monitoring the situation.

“Per our monitoring, tumaas ang damaged houses. Kahapon nasa 14,798. Kanina pag update, 20,533 na. At out of that number, 302 ang completely destroyed (the number of damaged houses have increased. From 14,798 yesterday [Sunday] to 20,533 this morning. And out of that number, 302 houses were completely destroyed),” DHSUD Undersecretary Avelino Tolentino said.

The DHSUD has activated local shelter cluster teams in Regions 1 (Ilocos), 2 (Cagayan Valley), and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

Based on records, a total of 54,504 families or 215,313 individuals were affected by the strong quake, Tolentino said.

Meanwhile, 1,047 families or 3,747 individuals sought refuge in 42 evacuation centers, but have since decreased since some victims decided to stay with relatives and friends.

Overall, from the initial 27,213 individuals who were staying with relatives or friends in Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province, the number has risen to 30,345.

Nag-shift ‘yung numero natin mula sa evacuation centers. Nagsilipat ang iba sa mga kamag-anak at kaibigan (The number in the evacuation centers shifted. Some transferred to their relatives and friends),” Tolentino said.

Partners

He said the DHSUD Regional offices 1, 2, and CAR are in continuous coordination with other government agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Transportation, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, among others, to ensure that the needs of the affected families are taken care of.

On the Emergency Shelter Assistance Program, Tolentino said that newly appointed Secretary Jerry Acuzar will have a meeting with DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo.

“On top of that, meron din kasing Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP) ang aming National Housing Authority (NHA) and there are still funds available sa aming budget at ‘yun ang titingnan namin kung papano namin ‘to ire-release (the NHA has an EHAP and there are still funds available from our budget, and that’s what we are looking at, on how we could release this budget),” he said.

During Typhoon Odette in December last year, Tolentino said the NHA released the EHAP within two weeks and distributed cash assistance to the local government units, with each affected family receiving PHP5,000.

Itong EHAP is arranged na ayuda na up to PHP30,000 depending sa damage sa ating mga (This EHAP is an assistance of up to PHP30,000 depending on the damage on the) structures,” he added. 

Tolentino said the DHSUD has distributed shelter-grade tarpaulins, donated by the International Organizations for Migration, and is still waiting for the availability of donated lumber from the Environment department.

The DSWD likewise distributed cash assistance and food packs to family beneficiaries. (With a report from Lade Kabagani/PNA)