THE RUNNING count of people affected by the series of earthquakes in central Mindanao last month has reached 231,250, more than half of them in Makilala town in Cotabato, based on the latest update from the national disaster management agency. Of the total, 36,183 are staying in 32 evacuation centers. Aside from Makilala, the other affected areas are: Cotabato’s capital Kidapawan City and five other towns; Malita and Santa Maria in Davao Occidental; and Davao del Sur’s capital Digos City and eight towns. On infrastructure, 26 schools have been totally destroyed while 1,050 are partially damaged. Houses account for the biggest hit with 10,862 totally damaged and 22,287 partial.
National government assistance has reached over P33.38 million, distributed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, and the Office of Civil Defense. The cost of emergency and relief operations from local government funds have yet to be reported. Meanwhile, local government units nationwide have been sending both financial aid, goods, and manpower to the affected areas. Among them is the Agusan del Sur provincial government, which brought their medical team and delivered various relief packs. Zamboanga City has approved a P5 million fund for assistance, on top of the initial P500,000 worth of goods delivered last Nov. 3 through the Philippine Coast Guard’s MV Bagacay vessel. In Davao City, P4.2 million has been approved for distribution. Surigao del Sur also delivered earlier this week a P300,000 cash donation. Academic institutions, business groups, non-government organizations, and other private groups in Mindanao have also been undertaking assistance operations. The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Business Council (ECCP-SMBC) has started soliciting donations of needed supplies from their members nationwide. ECCP- SMBC Chair Antonio S. Peralta said part of the proceeds of the upcoming 2nd ECCP Mindanao Golf Challenge will also be donated to the affected communities through established organizations such as the Philippine Red Cross and Save the Children Foundation. — with reports from Carmelito Q. Francisco and Maya M. Padillo