President leads charge to bring relief in Visayas
by FFE PH News staff
It’s all hands on deck for President Aquino’s Cabinet secretaries as relief operations are underway in the typhoon-devastated regions of Visayas.
Communications secretary Sonny Coloma said the president has just instructed the release of Php365 million to fund the Philippine Air Force as they take charge of the transportation of relief goods. The president also charged Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Emmanuel Bautista the task of ensuring military logistical support is in place.
Science and Technology secretary Mario Montejo was told to propose a secure communications grid to prevent cut-offs like those faced by telecommunications giants in areas hit by the super typhoon. He is expected to give ‘concrete suggestions on how to address the problem of disconnected communication in times of storms and calamities.’
Montejo was also tasked to retrace the path the typhoon took ‘to determine the areas of greatest impact’ so that relief and rescue forces will be know the exact areas to target.
Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa together with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) were charged with the coordination of various agencies involved in relief efforts. They were also told to report any updates directly to the president.
Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior secretary Mar Roxas meanwhile were appointed heads of the ‘search, rescue and relief operations on the ground, and to ensure no areas are isolated or cut off’ from resources.
Department of Works and Public Highways (DPWH) secretary Rogelio Singson was also briefed on what to focus on in the aftermath. The department is now working on clearing the roads of debris and surveying areas affected by landslides and storm surges.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary Dinky Soliman told the president that the department is ready to provide relief goods, especially food, in pre-positioned evacuation centres.
The Department of Health was given the task of assessing the health risks posed by the disaster.
While the government has said it will tap on funds and resources already set aside for calamities, it also mentioned international help and expertise are very welcome. The president has so far acknowledged and accepted assistance being pledged by countries and international communities.
A map of the areas most affected by the super typhoon and locations of regional evacuation and relief centres as compiled by the Philippines’ official journal The Official Gazette.
As of Monday morning, the Philippine government estimated that total damages to infrastructure and agriculture amount to Php297 million in the regions affected by the super typhoon. Various agencies however expect that the total cost of damage and number of casualties will rise in the coming days as roads are cleared, communications restored and more affected areas are accessed.