Aquino praises people of Davao Oriental for typhoon Pablo Recovery
After typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) passed through Davao Oriental on December 2012, the region was left flat on its knees.
Residents of the province rely heavily on agriculture, especially on coconut farming, for their livelihood. According to estimates by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) the damage to agriculture brought by typhoon Pablo reached more than Php4b in Davao Oriental, behind Compostela Valley (Php11b) and Davao del Norte (Php7b).
Felled coconut trees and debris were strewn everywhere during the first days of recovery. The town of Cateel in Davao Oriental had been ripped apart.
This is why President Aquino was surprised by the level of progress the town displayed when he visited yesterday for the Pulong-Bayan sa Cateel. He said in a speech ‘Ibang iba na ho itsura. Noong pag-landing [ang helicopter] nga ho kanina, sabi ko parang ang laki na ng diprensya, kaya nanigurado ako, “Talaga ba ito ang Cateel? Baka nagkamali tayo ng landing.”’
The president praised agencies and groups that had been responsible for the town’s recovery: the Department of Agriculture for helping shift farmers from planting coconuts to chili peppers called ‘Hot Pablo’ for the province to generate income quickly and the Department of Trade and Industry for its efforts to increase export locations for Hot Pablo products.
He also hailed Task Force Pablo for helping in the relief efforts in Davao Oriental. In addition, around Php10.5b had been set aside for the province that will be used to rebuild houses and structures, relocate 7,480 families and provide cash-for-work programmes to the jobless. So far, 57,890 had already benefitted from the cash-for-work programme.
The president also made certain his cabinet would do all they can to bring back normalcy to the province. He slammed the Budget Department, the National Electrification Administration and the Energy Department for being too slow in bringing back electricity to parts of the province.
He also made certain that National Housing Authority General Manager Chito Cruz would deliver on the relocation and housing programme: ‘Chito, alam mo naman, binilin sa akin ng tatay ko, ‘pag nagbitiw ako ng salita, nangyayari ‘yan.’
The president also revived the spirit of People Power in the way Cateel residents had stood up and recovered despite the devastating effects of nature. He said ‘Dito po, iba ang paghamon — hamon naman kalikasan, at hindi ng tao.
‘[Katulad ng] pagdadamayan [sa EDSA] ang kailangan natin upang tuluyan na nating matamasa ang tagumpay sa kabila ng mga trahedyang ating dinaanan. Sa harap ng pagsubok, hindi tayo nagmumukmok sa isang tabi at umasa sa milagro na bukas-makalawa, normal na ang lahat. Sa halip, kapit-bisig tayong kumikilos.’
President Aquino visited Cateel as part of his tour around the Philippines to celebrate the anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution. He is slated to visit other calamity-hit areas like Bohol, Cebu and Leyte. This is the first time the EDSA Revolution anniversary is commemorated outside Metro Manila.