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Veep joins Itogon relief efforts

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REUTERS

By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

VICE-PRESIDENT Maria Leonor G. Robredo on Friday visited tragedy-stricken Itogon, Benguet to provide livelihood assistance.

“Sinasabi nila na maraming tumutulong sa relief, maraming nagbibigay ng mga damit, pero iyong pinaka-problema talaga nila, kabuhayan saka tirahan,” Ms. Robredo told reporters. (They’re saying that many are helping through relief operations, many are donating clothes, but their real problem is livelihood and shelter.)

The Vice-President said her office has allotted funds to provide assistance to families displaced by the landslide.

“Sabi natin, i-prioritize natin iyong mga walang uuwian na bahay (We said, let’s prioritize those who don’t have anywhere to go)” Ms. Robredo said. “So ngayon, iyong ginagawa ng staff namin, dine-determine iyong level ng pangangailangan.” (So right now, our staff is determining the level of need.)

She added: “Sabi noong ating Municipal DRRM (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management) [officer], dineclare na talaga ito ng MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau) na hindi safe for residences. Kaya iyong pinaka-kuwestiyon talaga, saan sila pupunta?” she said. (The Municipal DRRM said MGB already declared the area unsafe for residences. So the real question is, where will they go?)

“May ibinigay naman sa kanila na evacuation center sa isang barangay. Kanina ine-express nila na nag-aatubili din sila doon kasi 18 kilometers away, malayo sa paaralan ng mga bata,” she added. (They were sent to an evacuation center in one barangay. [But] many have expressed reluctance because it’s 18 kilometers away from the schools.)

“Titingnan namin under our Angat Buhay program ano pa ba iyong ibang mga tulong na puwede (We’ll see under our Angat Buhay program, what we can do to help) in partnership with other agencies and (the) office (of) Cong. Teddy Baguilat,” Ms. Robredo also said, referring to Ifugao Representative Teddy B. Baguilat, Jr.

PHILEX RESCUERS
For their part, rescuers of Philex Mining said Friday they have recovered two more bodies from beneath the debris of the landslide born from Typhoon Ompong that swept through Northern Luzon on Sep. 15.

This brings to approximately 62 the number of victims recovered so far from Level 070 of Barangay Ucab, Itogon town, Benguet Province.

“Our rescuers are first to arrive at Ground Zero at daybreak and last to leave before or at nightfall,” said Eduardo Aratas, Legal Division head at Philex Padcal mine. “They get to work even before the other rescue teams arrive.”

Earlier, Philex Mining said it had constructed a pioneer access road from the Itogon Provincial Highway to Ground Zero of the incident for easy and speedy movement of people and equipment involved in the rescue effort.

“The estimate here is that it would take around two weeks for the digging to be completed. But the Philex team will continue rescue efforts for as long as it takes,” Mr. Aratas said.