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State of calamity declared in Leyte’s quake-hit areas

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has declared a state of calamity in Ormoc City and Kananga town in Leyte amid the devastation caused by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake last month.     

“The declaration…will hasten the rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance,” Proclamation 283 issued by the President on Aug. 7 stated.

The declaration will allow the government to tap calamity funds to assist quake-hit communities and impose price control on basic commodities and other goods. 

Duterte ordered concerned government agencies, including local government units, to implement rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation works; augment basic services and facilities as well as maintain peace and order in affected areas. 

The declaration will remain in effect until lifted by the President. 

Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez thanked the President for the declaration. He  expressed confidence that it would hasten the release of needed funds to construct transitional and permanent houses for 2,272 families staying in evacuation areas. 

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“We are waiting for financial help... It will fast-track everything,” Gomez said.

Gomez had forwarded a proposal to the National Housing Authority (NHA) for a “modified” housing project. He said he wants the beneficiaries to have bigger houses compared to those in other housing projects. 

The NHA’s regular budget for  housing projects is P295,00 per unit, including the cost of the lot and site development. 

Gomez’s proposal is for the city to buy the land and develop the site. He said the NHA budget should be used to build a single-detached 80-square-meter house.

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