MANILA, Philippines – After a visit of Cabinet secretaries and other national government officials to the earthquake-hit province of Leyte, it was decided that a state of calamity will be declared in Ormoc City.
"It was determined that Ormoc City, along with Kananga, a Leyte municipality, would be declared under a state of calamity," said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Monday, July 10.
Abella was among the officials present at the meeting held in Ormoc City. The other Cabinet members present were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Other officials present were National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Ricardo Jalad and representatives from the agriculture, interior, budget, social welfare, and health departments as well as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The news of a possible state of calamity for Ormoc comes days after Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez said there was no need for a declaration, according to a GMA News report.
NDRRMC's Jalad said it was ultimately the local government officials who reached the decision during the meeting.
"It's the call of [the] LGU to declare a state of calamity. Considering the effects, I think Ormoc satisfies the criteria," Jalad said in a message to Rappler.
The declaration will allow Ormoc City to access some P60 million of its local DRRM fund and around P100 million of its Quick Response Fund, said the NDRRMC chief.
The Ormoc City situation briefing was led by Lorenzana. Leyte officials updated the Cabinet officials on the status of recovery and rehabilitation efforts in their areas of jurisdiction.
Local government leaders present included Mayor Gomez, Ormoc Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez, and Kananga Mayor Rowena Codilla.
Mayor Gomez "reiterated their need for clean, potable water," said Abella.
NEDA representatives, meanwhile, underscored the urgency of bringing back power to affected areas.
A full report on rehabilitation efforts is set to be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte himself was supposed to visit Leyte on Monday but the trip was canceled for reasons not provided by the Palace. (LOOK: IN PHOTOS: Leyte quake aftermath)
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.