By Martin Sadongdong
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) clarified on Monday that there were “still enough” relief items for the residents of the quake-hit Itbayat town in Batanes but the problem lies on how it would be transported to them.
NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal said authorities were having difficulties transporting relief items to the island-town of Itbayat since most of the goods are stocked in Basco.
“Ang problema lang talaga ay (The only problem that we have is the) transport,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier deployed C295 helicopters to airlift the relief items from Basco to Itbayat.
Timbal said the NDRRMC is appealing to private shipping companies to help them transport the relief items to the devastated town.
It was earlier reported that supplies were running low in Itbayat as town Mayor Raul de Sagon appealed for additional relief goods from the national government.
Timbal said the support supply will be transported to Itbayat either by late Monday or early Tuesday, depending on the weather condition.
“We’re still waiting for the weather to clear because we are now entertaining means to send the relief items both by sea and by air but the sea is still violent,” he said in Pilipino.
More than three weeks since the deadly twin earthquakes, Timbal said some of the residents still remained in evacuation centers.
“Marami nang nag-uwian (A lot of them have returned to their homes). It’s just that, may mga wala na talagang mauwian at iyon ang inaasikaso pa natin because nagiba talaga ang mga bahay nila (there are still those who have nothing to return to and we are still attending to them because their houses were really destroyed),” Timbal said.
He was unsure how many people are still staying in evacuation centers.
He said Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco has requested construction materials so that they can build temporary shelters.
Itbayat was rocked by twin earthquakes with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.9 on July 27, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, one of the strongest was with a magnitude of 5.8.
The quake claimed nine lives and caused P292-million worth of damage to infrastructure.