Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana will take the lead in government relief efforts in quake-stricken parts of Mindanao, Executive secretary Salvador Medialdea announced today, Saturday, a day after several strong quakes hit North Cotabato and parts of the Davao peninsula.

” I have tasked Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, as head of the Department of National Defense and martial law administrator, to lead all relief efforts and to ensure safety and security of the public in the earthquake stricken areas of Mindanao,” Medialdea read this based on a directive he signed for and on behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who is now in Thailand for the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Bangkok.

“The public is advised to coordinate directly with the DND and/or National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to ensure the efficient conduct of relief efforts, including the distribution of relief goods and rescue operations,” adds Medialdea.

For the past 16 days, the island of Mindanao specifically provinces of Cotabato and Davao del Due were severely hit by three 6.3 to 6.6 magnitude earth tremors. Philvocs had not discounted the possibility of Davao peninsula being hit by a “big one” after the discovery of new fault lines in the peninsula last 2015.

A 6.3-magnitude, 6.6-magnitude and 6.5-magnitude tremor struck Tulunan town in North Cotabato on Oct. 16, Oct. 29 and Oct. 31 respectively.

At least 17 people, most were residents of Cotabato, were killed in the twin tremors last October 29 and 31. More than 320 people were injured while two others are reported missing, according to reports by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Buildings and housing structures bore cracks in their walls while other less sturdier structures were destroyed.

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