QUEZON CITY — Newly-appointed Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary Jose Acuzar hits the ground running, presiding over emergency meetings to consolidate and expedite efforts to assist earthquake victims in Northern Luzon.

On Sunday, Secretary Acuzar called a meeting with key DHSUD officials, led by former officer-in-charge Assistant Secretary Melissa Aradanas, and Assistant Secretaries Avelino Tolentino III and Daryll Villanueva, to consolidate efforts to provide immediate shelter assistance to earthquake victims.

The following day, the DHSUD chief gathered all heads of the key shelter agencies for a briefing and know first-hand their efforts to aid quake victims.

“Let us have a well-coordinated actions with local government units and other concerned national agencies to strategically deploy shelter assistance, and other assessed needs we can provide,” Secretary Acuzar said, who took oath only last Friday.

The new housing chief has instructed shelter officials to realign its resources to deliver the needs of the affected provinces following the order of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to maximize government resources in providing relief.

As of Monday, Pag-IBIG Fund reported that it has already served 303 members in affected areas for its services such as loan application, member registration and withdrawal of savings thru its service desk and Lingkod Pag-IBIG On Wheels.

In the same report, Pag-IBIG said that a total of P1.01 billion remains available to fund calamity loan claims of all 401,183 members affected in Northern Luzon. Processing of the said loan for its member-victims may only take three working days from the date of filing.

The National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, for its part, is implementing a moratorium on the monthly amortization of 2,242 families. It said that beneficiaries of the program have an option to either pay in lump sum within the term or extend the term equivalent to the number of months under payment moratorium.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) has allocated a total of P405 million to provide P15,000 for each of the 26,280 partially damaged houses and P30,000 for each of the 288 totally damaged through its Emergency Housing Assistance Program.

Meanwhile, Social Housing Finance Corporation, after sending out assessment teams from its field branches, found out that no project has been affected for possible implementation of moratorium on monthly amortization.

“Actions taken by our key shelter agencies have helped families, at least lessen their worries, while dealing with the effects brought by the earthquake. I urge everyone in our Department to continually mobilize ground personnel and implementing partners to better serve them,” Secretary Acuzar emphasized.

DHSUD Central Office, thru its Public Housing Settlements Service in partnership with the International Organization Migration, has already distributed 3,000 shelter-grade tarps for severely-affected families.

To date, DHSUD Regional Office CAR has turned over 2,000 of the tarps to Abra PNP for installation and distribution while DHSUD Regional Office 1 has received 1,000 tarps for transfer to the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur.

As of August 1, 6AM, DSWD’s Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center reported a total of 1,007 families or 3,588 individuals currently in temporary shelters in 38 evacuation centers while 12,160 families or 44,889 persons are staying with relatives or friends in Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province.

Meanwhile, damaged houses totaled to 25,207 – 342 of which were completely destroyed. —ACB