Duterte visits quake-hit Philippine province

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte being welcomed by Batanes Governor Malou Cayco (left), upon his arrival at an airport following an aerial inspection of the earthquake-hit town of Itbayat, Philippines, on July 28, 2019.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte being welcomed by Batanes Governor Malou Cayco (left), upon his arrival at an airport following an aerial inspection of the earthquake-hit town of Itbayat, Philippines, on July 28, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - President Rodrigo Duterte visited the northern Philippine province of Batanes on Sunday (July 28), a day after earthquakes struck the region and killed at least eight people, including a newborn.

Mr Duterte conducted an aerial inspection of the damage and ordered the authorities to ensure supplies are provided to victims, the Manila Bulletin newspaper said on its Twitter account.

He pledged 40 million Philippine pesos (S$1.07 million) to the province after his spokesman Salvador Panelo said Mr Duterte would initiate "the rebuilding of one of the most treasured destinations in the country".

The government's disaster risk-monitoring agency has recorded about 180 aftershocks following the 5.4- and 5.9-magnitude temblors in the town of Itbayat early on Saturday that left 63 people injured.

One person is missing while nearly 3,000 are staying at a public market after more than a dozen houses, two health facilities and two schools were damaged, the agency said on its website.

Mr Duterte also asked the coastguard to patrol Batanes and proposed expanding its runway, the Manila Bulletin said.

Houses in Batanes, at the northern tip of the Philippines and less than 400km from Taiwan, are made of metre-thick walls of cobblestone and limestone designed to withstand strong typhoons.

There are more than 17,200 people in the province, according to the statistics agency's 2015 data, and they rely mostly on agriculture for a living.

 

Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In 2013, a 7.2-magnitude quake hit Bohol province and areas in central Philippines, killing more than 200 people and affecting 600,000 families.