SHELTER AID. Earthquake victims with partially and totally damaged houses in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur receive cash aid from the government on Thursday (Aug. 11, 2022). The ceremonial distribution was led by Ilocos Sur Gov. Jeremias Singson (left) and NHA General Manager Joeben Tai (right). (Photo courtesy of National Housing Authority)

LAOAG CITY – The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) on Thursday started distributing shelter assistance to 26,668 residents in Abra and Ilocos Sur whose houses were damaged by a magnitude 7 earthquake last July 27.

In a message during the turnover of assistance, DHSUD Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar said a housing resettlement will be built in Tayum town in partnership with SM Development Corporation.

“It is not a promise, it will happen, the developer will put up the houses in partnership with the NHA (National Housing Authority) and the local government," he said, adding that their agency is also looking for other proactive and sustainable solutions to help the victims.

“In the past two weeks, we have been monitoring the damage reports and we immediately sent to coordinate with the local government to help the affected residents,” Acuzar said.

He said based on the report they have received, more than 26,000 families were affected by the quake in the region, with hundreds of houses having been totally damaged by the earthquake.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development reported that 489 of the totally damaged houses out of the 575 in the region were in Abra.

Meanwhile, Abra Rep. Menchie Bernos, during the program, said: “You have a clearer picture of what happened, we hope that you will continue to help us rebuild our lives in Abra, that you will continue to include us in your programs.”

Cash aid

In Ilocos Sur, NHA General Manager Joeben Tai said in Vigan, three residents whose houses were totally damaged received PHP20,000 each while those with partially damaged houses received PHP10,000 each.

“This is in response to the directive of President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. to provide immediate relief to the affected families in the north,” Tai said during the ceremonial distribution at the Vigan Convention Center.

Almost 27,000 families with damaged houses in Abra and Ilocos Sur will be receiving emergency housing assistance from the government, Tai added.

In his speech, Ilocos Sur Governor Jeremias Singson said he was thankful that various government agencies are extending their full support to earthquake victims in the province.

“We are grateful for the full force of support from our government agencies. It is saddening what our province mates have been through but with your show of support and unity, we shall outlive any challenges that may come our way,” he said.

Mico Cabanas, one of the affected residents in Vigan City, said he still trembles every time he feels the ground shake due to the series of aftershocks.

He recalled how they immediately evacuated their house in the Poblacion after the temblor and moved into his brother’s house.

Following the President's visit to Abra and Vigan a day after the strong earthquake, all the concerned regional offices were immediately deployed to monitor and facilitate emergency response and humanitarian assistance to those in need. (PNA)