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Duterte vows swift assistance for Leyte

By: Genalyn Kabiling and Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

President Duterte has apologized to residents of quake-hit Leyte for his late visit but promised the delivery of swift relief and rehabilitation assistance.

The President visited Ormoc City last Thursday to assess the extent of the quake damage and commiserate with affected families.

“Our apologies for our physical absence,” Duterte said during a meeting with Cabinet members and local officials a week after a powerful earthquake hit the province.

“You know we are also having a serious problem in Mindanao and in the order of priority of things I think we had to focus first our attention on Marawi,” he added.

The President met local officials and pledged to facilitate the return of normalcy in the province as soon as possible.

“We are here to help to you,” the President said. “The government has programs on providing relief assistance. We will implement this,” Duterte added.

Duterte addressed the threat of natural and man-made disasters and encouraged the people to live their lives without fearing when the “act of God” is coming.

The Chief Executive said Filipinos have already suffered enough in terms of calamities.

He also said that everybody has been nervous thinking when and where the next quake would hit.

“There’s always a fear when the the Big One will happen. Everybody’s expecting it, everybody’s nervous even in Mindanao. Kailan kaya mangyari,” Duterte said, referring to the dreaded magnitude-7.2 earthquake predicted to hit Metro Manila due to the movement in the West Valley Fault that is said to happen every 400 years.

“You know, forget it. You better sleep soundly. If it’s your time, it’s your time. Wala ka nang magawa diyan,” he said.

The President was supposed to visit Leyte last Monday but instead sent several Cabinet members to meet local officials. At the time, the government officials were focused on bringing back power and ensuring potable water to the community.

Among the Cabinet members who accompanied the President in Leyte were Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

Ormoc City Richard Gomez and wife Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres Gomez were also present during the briefing with the President and the Cabinet.

The President has spent more days in Mindanao since he declared martial law to suppress the threat of terrorism and rebellion.

Duterte, who has visited several military camps to boost the soldiers’ morale, recently said he hopes the conflict in Marawi will be over in 10 to 15 days.

Two people were killed and dozens others were injured by the magnitude-6.5 earthquake in Leyte last Thursday. Nearly 2,000 families were reportedly displaced by the quake.

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