Vice President Leni Robredo inspects on Wednesday, January 2, the extent of the damage caused by landslides at Sitio Igot, Barangay Patitinan, Sagñay, Camarines Sur. Photo from the Office of the Vice President

PHILIPPINE Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday, January 2, pledged to provide psychological assistance to landslide survivors in Iraya village after tropical depression Usman ravaged their area.

“Apart from psychological therapy, they also need help to start over, especially those who lost their parents,” Robredo said according to reports.

Robredo visited Barangay Iraya to distribute relief goods and cash assistance to survivors but she said she would be looking for more resources to fund the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the village.

“Relief packs are only provisional. What [Buhi] really needs is help for their rehabilitation phase,” she added.

Eighteen bodies of landslide victims from the indigenous group Mt. Iraya Agta in Camarines Sur were either retrieved from the mud or found in other villages across Buhi Lake after floating for days.

“Napakahirap dito kasi iyong lugar mismo, ano pa siya, parang natabunan pa ng putik, so napakahirap pa iyong rehabilitation efforts (The situation here is hard, because the place itself is covered by mud, so the rehabilitation efforts will be difficult),” Robredo said as reported by the Manila Bulletin.

The vice president brought 800 food packs donated by Angat Buhay partner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and personally handed cash assistance to 12 families as she assessed the damages the tropical depression caused.

As per writing, there were more than 100 people killed in the Bicol region. There were 57 from Camarines Sur, 18 from Albay, 15 from Camarines Norte, eight from Sorsogon and seven from Masbate. Twenty-three people are missing and 53 injured, as of press time.

The Office of the Vice President (OVP) promised to consult the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in identifying which areas could be liveable and which ones are prone to disasters such as landslides and flash floods.

“The help that we will ask from DPWH is to provide assistance here in Buhi to identify once and for all the houses which they can no longer occupy,” she said in Filipino.

Fourteen lakeside villages were submerged after the water from Buhi Lake, Rinaga River, and Suwong River overflowed. As such, the OVP appealed “not just to government agencies but also organizations that render help.”

“I hope when we decide where to allocate government funds, we should think about what would help residents the longest – not only what is being seen, but it is what will be truly felt by everyone,” Robredo said. 

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