"Help is on the way."
Malacañang gave this assurance on Thursday as the Aquino administration was swamped with calls for assistance from local government units in Bohol and Cebu provinces, which suffered heavily from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Tuesday. Before leaving for Seoul on a state visit on Thursday, President Aquino issued instructions to government agencies to respond to all the concerns of the calamity victims in the two provinces, his spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said on Thursday.
However, residents in Maribojoc, one of the worst-hit towns in Bohol along with Loboc and Loon, were complaining that government presence in the municipality was hardly visible.
They said they had to rely on their own to survive without power and water supplies before help finally came on Thursday.
But it was too meager.
Two sacks, each containing 20 packs of canned goods and rice, arrived in Barangay (village) Candavid-hardly enough for 600 residents, most of whom had been staying for days in waiting sheds and makeshift tents put up in vacant lots and school grounds in the absence of an evacuation centre. When it rained on Wednesday night, the evacuees tried to cover the sides with cloth to prevent them from getting wet, but it hardly worked.
They could not go back to their homes after these were destroyed during the earthquake.
"We are in touch with the provincial government, and the national government has been there, and we will continue to pour our efforts to assist the beleaguered people of Bohol. And, as a fellow Boholanon, we will rise," Lacierda said. His mother was born in Loon, another hard-hit town in the province. "We already assured the provincial government, as well as the local towns, of the help that is on its way," he said.