By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte ordered the suspension of operations of four other branches of Chozun Supermarkets in Pampanga until these are deemed safe after their four-year-old branch in Porac collapsed in the 6.1-magnitude quake that hit the province Monday afternoon.
Duterte gave the instruction during a briefing on the effects of the Luzon tremor in San Fernando, Pampanga Tuesday evening after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reported that two floors were added to what was originally a two-story building.
Año said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) already summoned the owner of the five Chozun supermarkets.
Duterte said it is possible that the one who constructed the Porac supermart is the same who did the four others and it would be better to suspend their operations until the government gives them clearance to reopen.
“So it would be good at this time to just give them the advice to stop — cease and desist doing business until such time that the clearance given by government whether the city or city engineer or whoever is competent to review the planning and inquire into what kind of materials whether they were made or applied in right sizes or was there any shortcuts made,” he said.
“Because in some they would say that there’s a lot of… Well, you see cement but what’s the [entrails?] inside the columns there has to be examined whether they can withstand the additional two stories. And may I know if this was accompanied by a new application to add another story?” he queried.
Duterte then raised the possibility that the construction may have taken a few shortcuts to save on costs because it was the only structure in the area that collapsed.
“There will be a lot of questions there because one it is a newly built — only four years and the fact that the intensive damage and extensive was appalling in the sense that there were a collapse and the other buildings around made also of cement and structural materials the steel eh wala namang bumagsak (but they are still standing). It’s the only one,” he said.
“I know that there are some quirks. But whether it was a deliberate move to just do away with safety standards or was there compliance with the requirements of the law. Karamihan kasi diyan ‘yung (Most of these are taking) shortcuts and trying to save money,” the President added.
He tapped the Department of Public Works and Highways, Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to determine the structural integrity of the collapsed building.
“Whether it was a defect man-made or one of those really I said that it can happen and it was a bad day for them to have it,” he said.
Duterte accompanied by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda and other Cabinet members went to the site of the collapsed Chozun supermarket before the briefing. The President also visited the wake of a young girl who perished in the quake.
The President said he was “quite satisfied” with how the government was able to meet the medical needs of those affected by the quake.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured there was no problem in terms of funds, medications, and blood supply.
The DOH, Duque said assisted 112 individuals who were brought to different hospitals in the area. Four have been discharged as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.
“And so far, they are being managed adequately. No problems in terms of medication and operations for the various seriously injured,” Duque said.
“It’s a range of injuries, Mr. President, from minor to major, others needing amputation kasi nga po nadurog ang mga buto, ang mga laman nabagsakan po at karamihan po dito ay mula doon sa (because their bones were crushed and they were pinned down. Most of them were from the) Chuzon [Supermarket] collapsed building,” he added.
Duque assured the DOH and PhilHealth will shoulder all hospital expenses of the victims and that medical assistance is adequate.
Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said they have distributed 200 family food packs for affected families and provided burial cash assistance to initially 11 individuals as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Emergency shelter assistance will likewise be provided to 56 families from eight communities in Porac – P30,000 for a damaged house, and P10,000 for those partially damaged.
The labor department, on the other hand, said they will facilitate the reemployment of Chuzon supermarket employees who will be affected by the suspension of its business operations.
The DOLE encouraged Chuzon employees to visit the job fair on May 1 and vowed to provide livelihood assistance for those who will not be hired.
Agriculture secretary estimated the cost of damage caused by the tremor to irrigation canals and dams to at least P50 million.
Meanwhile, after Luzon was hit by a 6.1-magnitude quake Monday, a strong 6.5-magnitude quake jolted Eastern Visayas after lunch Tuesday. There were no reported casualties.
Yesterday at about 11:43 a.m., a 4.7 mild tremor was felt in Davao Oriental. The epicenter was located 59 kilometers northeast of Baganga, Davao Oriental.
Phivolcs said they do not expect property damage or loss of lives as a result of the mild tremor.
Phivolcs earlier noted that Eastern Mindanao, where Surigao del Norte and Davao Occidental belong, is one of the seismically active areas in the country because of the Philippine Fault and Philippine Trench, the main earthquake generators that can affect the area.
There are also other local faults which can be sources of small- to large-magnitude earthquakes.
(With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling, Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz, and PNA)