THE COTABATO provincial government held a planning workshop on Wednesday as a first step to drafting the recovery and rehabilitation program for residents displaced by the series of earthquakes in October.

The meeting — led by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) and the Provincial Planning and Development Office — was attended by the regional heads and representatives of various national agencies and local government units (LGUs).

Makakaya natin ang kalamidad dahil sa suporta ng (We can deal with the calamity given the support of the) national government, local governments and individuals and private organizations as well as local and international NGOs (non-government organizations) and other sectors… together we help rebuild our heavily affected LGUs,” Acting Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said in a text message.

The rehabilitation plan will use the report of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology’s (Phivolcs) Quick Response Team, which was presented to Ms. Mendoza earlier this week.

The report includes maps, extent of damage, and other documents showing areas that have been “assessed as safe for permanent relocation sites,” the Cotabato provincial government said in a statement.

Phivolcs also reported the installation of six temporary seismic stations around the earthquake areas for continued monitoring and assessment.

Out of the almost 260,000 people affected by the three major tremors last month, more than 162,000 are in Cotabato.

Over 30,000 of them are still staying in the 36 evacuation centers, while more than 6,000 are staying with relatives or friends.

Relief operations are continuing for all those affected in the province as well as those in Davao del Sur while unexpected challenges hit some evacuation areas.

Some soldiers from the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) were pulled out from relief operations and deployed to assist people in four evacuation centers in the town of Makilala after their temporary shelters were was struck down by a strong wind, heavy rain, and hailstorm.

EastMinCom said engineers from the 534th Engineer Construction Battalion are currently building a prototype of a quick-to-construct temporary shelter for the earthquake victims.

In Davao del Sur, nine barangays will be recommended for permanent relocation due to dangers that have emerged following the series of earthquakes.

The Davao Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) said field assessments by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau show big cracks in these areas, which put residents in surrounding communities at risk, especially if another strong earthquake occurs.

“The big tension cracks may cause landslides due to further shaking or heavy downpour. These barangays need to be relocated,” Franz N. Irag, manager of the DRRMO’s Emergency Operations Center, said.

The nine barangays are within the four towns of Bansalan, Magsaysay, Kiblawan and Hagonoy.

The two villages in Hagonoy, said Mr. Irag, also showed soil liquefaction.

Meanwhile, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) reminded donors not to send milk, including powdered, evaporated, condensed, or infant formula, to avoid health risks at the evacuation areas.

NNC Davao Regional Coordinator Maria Teresa L. Ungson said a Department of Health implementing rule indicates that milk should not be distributed as part of emergency relief goods.

“We would like to stress that we are still pushing for breastfeeding even in emergency situation,” Ms. Ungson, a doctor, said. — with reports from Maya M. Padillo and Carmelito Q. Francisco