Malacañang assured that the government is on top of the situation after another strong earthquake jolted Tulunan, Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao on Thursday morning.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this assurance, stressing that the President’s “top concern” will always be to provide assistance and relief to those affected by the magnitude 6.5 quake.
“The President considers all situations arising from natural disasters that have caused widespread destruction to lives and property a top concern,” Panelo said in a statement.
“The President had directed all agencies and responsible local government units to provide the necessary assistance and immediate relief to those affected,” he added.
Panelo said the President is currently “safe” in his home in Davao City and is closely monitoring developments.
In a TV interview, Duterte’s former aide, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said that the President was in the bathroom when the quake took place.
He said the President’s house acquired minor damage, mostly cracks.
Presidential Security Group (PSG) BGen. Jose Eriel Nembra said the President and his family did not evacuate from their house but the damage is being assessed by engineers.
Meanwhile, Panelo said the President will no longer visit quake-hit areas as initially scheduled since concerned government agencies are already on top of the situation.
“The President, however, deems it appropriate to refrain from personally inspecting the disaster-stricken areas and directing actions in response to the catastrophe as there are already ongoing operations by the responsible local government units, and they have so far effectively responded to the current critical situation,” Panelo said.
However, Panelo said the President will still push through with his trip to Bangkok, Thailand on Friday afternoon to participate in the 35th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.
Before he leaves for his foreign trip, the President will visit the grave of his parents in Davao City.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake struck 33 kilometers northeast of Tulunan, North Cotabato at 9:11 am, just two days after a magnitude 6.6 tremor hit the same area, killing at least 8 people.
The Philippines suffers regular tremors as part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a path along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. (PNA)