MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is keen on visiting earthquake-hit Abra province as soon as it is determined to be safe for him to fly, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a briefing on Wednesday, July 27.
A magnitude 7 earthquake hit the island of Luzon Wednesday morning, with the epicenter in Abra. Initial reports from local officials and posts on social media indicated damage to homes and establishments. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has warned that damage and aftershocks are expected.
“He will make an inspection of the disaster areas as soon as he’s give the all-clear, as long as it is safe for him to travel,” added Angeles. Marcos may also visit “all those areas where it is necessary, that his presence will be necessary.”
The First Family is also safe, although Angeles did not say where they were at the time of the earthquake. Angeles also declined to specify the location of the President when the quake hit and where he was during the briefing. She only said, “He’s at work.”
Angeles said Marcos is already “coordinating” with both the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Department of Social Welfare and Development. The Palace is also coordinating with local officials and has ordered the dispatch of equipment for disaster preparation and relief, according to Angeles.
Marcos has also asked private telecommunication companies to “provide immediate assistance and free communication” in areas where towers were downed by the earthquake.
Angeles added that Marcos “will put this as his priority, and most likely might cancel certain appointments” on July 27 because of the earthquake.
Speaking at a separate press briefing in the afternoon, Marcos said he would not be flying to Abra immediately because he didn’t want to get in the way of disaster response efforts.
“I am staying away from going to the affected areas for a very simple reason: It has been my experience…that when national officers come to the affected areas immediately, ginugulo lang namin ‘yung trabaho ng mga local (we just derail the work of local officials),” he said.
The President said he may visit the day after, on July 28.
Marcos, who started his term on June 30, 2022, has Ilokano roots through his father. He has been governor and House representative of Ilocos Norte, a province in the so-called “Solid North” where Abra is also located. Most provinces in the northern-most part of the country are considered bailiwicks of the Marcos clan.
In a series of tweets in both Filipino and Ilokano, the President urged Abra residents to “remain vigilant” and to seek help from government officials in their locality. He added, also in Ilokano: “Sama-sama tayong babangon mula sa pagsubok na ito” – a nod to his 2022 campaign slogan.
(We will rise together from this challenge together). – Rappler.com
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