Batangas exec: No calamity declaration yet after quake

MANILA (Updated) -- Batangas provincial administrator Levi Dimaunahan clarified Wednesday that the province is yet to be placed under a state of calamity due to the impact of the strong earthquake that rocked Luzon on Tuesday.

"A state of calamity shall be declared if need be, after assessment of reports from different LGUs (local government units). Hindi pa po tayo tapos. Wala pa po tayong declaration but at anytime, any day, we might," he said.

"The governor or the provincial administrator might ask the Sanggunian to declare a state of calamity if there is a need to do so," he added.

When a province is placed under a state of calamity, local government officials will be allowed to use its emergency funds and price freeze, particularly on basic human necessities will be in effect.

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake hit Tuesday evening northwest of Tingloy, Batangas. Dozens of aftershocks had followed until Wednesday.

Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas said the earthquake damaged the Batangas Provincial Capitol Building for an estimated damage of P18 million, and the Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours in Taal.

Engineer Gilbert Gatdula said building officials were also checking houses and commercial establishments for cracks on walls and floors.

"Maraming [may] crack ang mga bahay sa Batangas," Gatdula said.

Joselito Castro of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said the minor basilica sustained only minor damage.

Representatives from National Historical Institute of the Philippines were assessing the damage on the Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, tagged as the Asia's biggest Catholic Church, which was built in 1755.

Mandanas said building officials are now checking wall cracks and floor cracks in school buildings and hospital buildings. The governor earlier suspended classes in all levels in the province.

Power interruptions were experienced in three barangays in the San Pascual town after the quake but electricity was immediately restored.

Batangas provincial administrator Levi Dimaunahan said they will provide bags of cement to the barangays for the repair of damaged structures. (SunStar Philippines)
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