The Regional Development Council (RDC) VIII, through the initiative of RDC VIII Chairperson, Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzalez-Romualdez, convened its Executive Committee (ExCom) together with other concerned agencies on 8 July 2017 in Tacloban City. The purpose was to discuss the extent of damage wrought by the earthquake that occurred in certain areas of the region on 06 July 2017, as well as coordinate efforts to address the post-disaster situation, particularly the region-wide power shutdown.

The Council recommended to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, through the NDRRMC, to declare the region under a State of Calamity to fast-track the recovery and rehabilitation of the region. The region suffers from physical damages and consequential negative economic impact, especially in the business sector, due to reliance on the power generated from the geothermal power plants located in Tongonan, Ormoc City, Leyte.

The declaration will allow (1) the local government units (LGUs) to make use of their calamity fund in providing support and assistance to their constituents affected by the disaster, (2) provide the neighboring LGUs of the highly affected areas the authority to extend aid in the name of brotherhood of cities and municipalities in the region under existing COA rules and regulations, (3) prevent an artificial shortage in the supply and prime increase of commodities as previously experienced in past disasters, and (4) expedite procurement.

The recommendation was formalized through RDC-VIII ExCom Resolution No. 10, Series of 2017, entitled “Recommending to the President Through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to Declare Eastern Visayas Under a State of Calamity Arising from the Region-wide Adverse Impact of the 06 July 2017 6.5 Magnitude Earthquake.”

Additionally, DOE Usec. Felix William Fuentebella shared the good news that full restoration of power will be within 10 days from the date of the earthquake, latest on July 16, upon completion of a bypass line allowing transmission of energy from Cebu.

Reports from the OCD VIII, DOE delivered by Usec. Felix William Fuentebella, NGCP, Energy Development Corporation (EDC), electric cooperatives through the Federation of Rural Electric Cooperatives (FRECOR) in Region VIII, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and CAAP were presented during the meeting.

In a recent development, however, the aftershock that occurred on 10 July, with a magnitude of 5.8 with epicenter near Ormoc City, damaged six (6) more units 150MVA transformers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). NGCP extended the target full power restoration to 15 days more for the replacement transformers to be hauled, installed, tested and commissioned.

Veda Eslopor, DRD, NEDA VIII