MORE than P2 billion is needed for the rehabilitation of classrooms damaged by the magnitude 7 earthquake that rocked northwestern parts of the country last week, the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Thursday.
In a news conference, DepEd Spokesperson Michael T. Poa said the cost for repairs and reconstruction of damaged classrooms has increased to P2.1 billion.
Mr. Poa said the agency is considering building “temporary learning spaces” or “tent-style” makeshift classrooms for the damaged schools, noting that the number of schools affected by the major earthquake rose to 427.
He said the agency was realigning funds for the construction of the learning spaces.
“If there are projects which are not priorities or would not push through or if there are savings, we will realign these for our quick intervention,” he said.
DepEd earlier said schools in areas hit by the quake are still expected to proceed with the opening of classes on Aug. 22.
Mr. Poa said about 15.2 million learners have enrolled for the new school year as of Thursday morning.
Abra province was the epicenter of the earthquake that also affected other parts of the Cordillera region as well as Ilocos and Cagayan Valley.
Its tremors were also felt in the capital region Metro Manila, forcing workers to evacuate buildings and halting train operations.
In a post, DepEd’s office in Abra said the agency’s central office visited the province to validate local risk-based reports.
“The findings of their assessment will be the basis of a streamlined and well-coordinated rehabilitation and recovery plans,” DepEd’s Abra office said.
“There is also an on-going identification of schools who will be needing temporary learning shelters this next school year.”
Last week’s major quake, which has claimed 10 lives and injured 410 others, has affected 118,207 families or 443,152 people, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said in an 8:00 am situation report on Thursday.
The earthquake also damaged 30,066 houses, 549 of which were totally destroyed, the agency said.
Damage to infrastructure has reached almost P1.27 billion, NDRRMC said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on Thursday said 21 business establishments have yet to reopen after the earthquake.
In a live-streamed news briefing, DoLE administrator for the Cordillera Administrative Region Nathaniel V. Lacambra said about 426 formal sector workers are out of work as of Thursday.
“We also have what we call informal sector workers like our farmers and fisherfolk who can’t work because of the earthquake,” he said.
The Labor department has allocated P50 million for emergency employment and rehabilitation in the Cordillera and Ilocos regions.
He noted that DoLE’s Cordillera regional office has already given 4,625 affected workers emergency employment involving clearing operations and recycling.
NDRRMC reported that more than P90 million worth of assistance has so far been provided, including those from the national and local governments, non-government organizations, and the private sector, among others.
The European Union said on Thursday that it will provide €800,000 (P45.3 million) in emergency funds to assist victims of the earthquake.
The funding will provide for safe drinking water and sanitation, hygiene, mental health and psychosocial support services, and education for the most vulnerable in the hardest-hit areas.
Chargé d’Affaires Ana Isabel Sánchez Ruiz of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, said: “With this assistance, the European Union reaffirms its commitment and solidarity towards the victims of humanitarian disasters in the Philippines.”
China has donated P10 million worth of rice to Abra and nearby areas, according to a Facebook post made by the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines on Thursday.
“We are confident that under the leadership of President Marcos the Filipino people will rise above difficulties and rebuild their home soon,” Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said.
The Chinese Embassy handed over the donation, sponsored by the embassy and the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., to the Department of Social Welfare and Development on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the United States joined Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and other partners in Puerto Princesa, Palawan for the Pacific Partnership 2022 (PP22) on Wednesday, the US Embassy said in a Thursday statement.
PP22 is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness exercise conducted in the Indo-Pacific, it said.
Activities began on July 27 with the arrival of the USNS Mercy, a 1,000-bed hospital ship commissioned in 1986 to provide medical services to support US disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.
“The impact of disaster emergencies transcends borders and requires comprehensive coordination among nations for an effective response,” PP22 Mission Commander Hank Kim said in a statement on Thursday. “I am confident that the planning and hard work that we have invested with our partners will have a long-lasting impact here in the Philippines.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, John Victor D. Ordoñez, and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan