By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte committed to release P40 million for the construction of a new clinic in the quake-hit municipality of Itbayat in Batanes instead of repairing the damaged hospital that would be more expensive.



Duterte made the statement as he led the situation briefing in Itbayat, Batanes late Sunday afternoon.

According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, while the Itbayat District Hospital suffered minimal cracks, it was still fully functional and would be able to attend to the individuals reported to have been injured in the earthquake.

However, Duterte said he wants a new clinic instead of repairing the damaged hospital.

“I am not keen on repairing, that’s too expensive and you are not sure of its durability or viability. So bigyan mo na lang ako ng (So just tell me) what needs to be done,” he said.

“I’ll give you 40 million… I hope you’d put it to good use. The P40 million would bring you something like small parang clinic, hospital. Hindi naman kayo marami dito (After all, you’re not that many here),” he added.

During his visit, Duterte also ordered authorities to ensure that supply lines in Batanes are working to make sure nobody gets hungry.

“Make sure that your supply line is working so that nobody gets hungry and people are not short of supply,” he said.

Before leading the situation briefing, Duterte conducted an aerial inspection of the affected areas in Itbayat. He also provided cash assistance to the families of casualties and those injured.

According to Nograles, the government continues to mobilize resources to extend assistance to the victims of the earthquake. He said the government is working to ensure that medical services would be available to those injured and displaced by the magnitude of 5.4 and magnitude 5.9 earthquakes which hit Itbayat and Basco, Batanes early Saturday.

As of 7 p.m. Saturday, Nograles said that the casualty count included eight confirmed deaths, one missing person, 63 injured, and 752 households displaced.

The former lawmaker also said that tents, water, hygiene kits, and medicine will be provided by the government to these families.

Medical teams and mental health teams would also be deployed to the island town to assist its residents.

“The government’s priority now is to ensure that those injured in the earthquake, as well as the families displaced by it, are given adequate medical care,” he said.