BAGUIO, Philippines -- Workers retrieved the bodies of hundreds of people buried in landslides in remote northern villages, raising the death toll from last week's massive earthquake to 1,597, officials said Tuesday.
In Manila, the House of Representatives quickly appoved President Corazon Aquino's request for a $434 million fund to rehabilitate areas ruined by the July 16 temblor.
The Senate was expected to approve the fund shortly.
In another development, Press Undersecretary Horacio Paredes told reporters 200 troops were sent to secure buildings, gas stations and other facilities after looting broke out Monday night in the hard-hit mountain resort city of Baguio for the first time since the quake.
Paredes did not elaborate but residents of remote villages had complained about the slow distribution of relief goods. He said the government airlifted 96,000 tons of relief supplies to towns surrounding Baguio, 120 miles north of Manila.
The military Office of Civil Defense put the quake death toll at 1,597, with 1,047 others missing and feared dead, and 2,935 others injured. The Social Welfare Department said 1,080,160 were left homeless by the temblor, which measured 7.7 on the open-ended Richter scale.
OCD said workers recovered 698 bodies from landslides in towns near Baguio and in the nearby provinces of Abra, Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija.
In the hillside town of Carranglan in Nueva Ecija, 95 miles north of Manila, Mayor Luzvimindo Otik said 2,946 houses were crushed by landslides and rescuers still were looking for hundreds of missing villagers.
Similar situations were reported in scores of isolated communities and the toll was expected to rise further as helicopter-borne troops pressed their search for missing victims.
In Baguio, miners and Philippine Military Academy cadets continued to hunt for bodies in the rubble of 28 flattened buildings after foreign rescue teams gave up hopes of finding survivors.
Aquino visited her home province of Tarlac Tuesday morning, inspecting cracked roads, damaged bridges and breached dikes along the Tarlac river.
Officials have recorded 648 aftershocks of last weeks temblor, the worst since 3,000 people were killed in a quake and tidal wave in August 1976.
In the central Philippines, officials said an aftershock of a June 14 quake that killed seven people rocked the islands of Negros and Panay at 3:03 a.m. They said the quake measured intensity 5 in Aklan province, 4 in Iloilo and 3 in Bacolod. No damage was reported.
Aquino welcomed the swift action taken by Congress on the rehabilitation fund as a 'shining example of unity in government as it responds to the pressing needs of our people.'
However, lawmakers announced they would push through their proposal to suspend payments on the country's $26 billion foreign debt and channel the money to the recovery effort.
Aquino Monday rejected legislative calls to unilaterally call for a moratorium of debt payments.