July 2022 Luzon earthquake

‘Kami naman maniningil’: Abra town mayor asks Marcos for fire trucks, ambulances

Bonz Magsambol

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‘Kami naman maniningil’: Abra town mayor asks Marcos for fire trucks, ambulances

WISH LIST. Mayor Joseph Bernos speaking to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

RTVM screenshot

'We delivered 96% of the votes of Abra during the last election, so tingin ko kami naman po ang maniningil ngayon, Mr. President,' says La Paz Mayor Joseph Bernos

MANILA, Philippines – La Paz, Abra Mayor Joseph Bernos has one wish he wants to get from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. after his town delivered votes for the President during the 2022 elections: new fire trucks and ambulances that they could use for disaster response.

Bernos made the appeal during Marcos’ visit to earthquake-hit Abra on Thursday, July 28. The mayor said that the whole province only has four fire trucks that are in “top condition.”

“‘Yung Bangued nga po, may fire truck na panahon pa po ng tatay ninyo na fire truck ‘yon. That was 30 years ago, so hinihiling ko po na sana palakasin ‘yung disaster response ng mga LGUs,” Bernos said.

(In Bangued town, they have a fire truck that was procured during your father’s time. That was 30 years ago, that’s why I’m requesting to strengthen the disaster response of the LGUs.)

“Balita ko po from the BFP, they have brought 15 new fire trucks to Abra now. E baka puwede po Mr. President na iwan na lang po ‘yung iba dito,” he added. (I learned that the Bureau of Fire Protection brought 15 new fire trucks here in Abra. Mr. President, maybe you can just leave some of them here.)

‘Kami naman maniningil’: Abra town mayor asks Marcos for fire trucks, ambulances

Aside from fire trucks, Bernos also requested new ambulances from the national government.

“During the previous administrations, lagi po kaming lumuluhod sa PCSO for ambulance. So, this time, siguro naman po open na po lahat ‘yung request namin kasi may Ilocano president na kami and we delivered 96% of the votes of Abra during the last election, so tingin ko kami naman po ang maniningil ngayon, Mr. President,” Bernos appealed.

(During the previous administrations, we would always beg the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for ambulance. Maybe this time, we can reopen our request since we now have an Ilocano president, and we delivered 96% of the votes of Abra during the last election, so I think it’s time for us to charge you for that, Mr. President.)

The province of Abra was part of the so-called “Solid North.” During the May 2022 elections, the province delivered 147,655 votes for Marcos, with his closest rival former vice president Leni Robredo only getting 4,500 votes.

In response, Marcos said his government will look into it. 

“The problem of fire truck and ambulance is worse in here in Abra than in other provinces. Medyo naiwanan kayo (You were somehow left behind) when it comes to that,” Marcos added.

On Wednesday, July 27, a magnitude 7 earthquake rattled the northern island of Luzon, with the epicenter located in Abra, damaging homes and buildings, including heritage structures and centuries-old churches. Seismologists have since recorded close to 800 aftershocks.

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, Abra Representative Ching Bernos said that “windows of homes were shattered, while walls of establishments showed cracks” in the province after the earthquake. 

The Abra Provincial Hospital showed signs of damage, prompting patients to evacuate, she added.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the death toll from the quake had been revised down to four from five, but the number of injured had risen to more than 130. Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.