Naval, Biliran – The government is intensifying its efforts to provide immediate relief services to Filipinos affected by Tropical Depression Urduja, Malacañang assured on Monday, December 18.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., together with some Cabinet officials, conducted a press briefing in Naval State University to give updates on the action taken by the administration following the devastation caused by Urduja.
Secretary Roque expressed the government’s sympathies with the calamity victims. He assured them of the different agencies’ commitment in addressing the people’s needs and ensuring their safety.
“Nakikiramay po ang buong gobyerno ni Presidente Duterte. At asahan niyo po, narito po sa inyong piling ang gobyerno ni Presidente Duterte,” the Spokesperson stressed.
“At sa panahon nga pong ito, sa araw na ito ay hindi lang po situationer briefing ang mangyayari, kung hindi aatasan na talaga ni Presidente ang lahat ng mga kalihim, na nakita niyo naman po narito ngayon sa ground zero sa Biliran, para bigyan ng katugunan ang inyong mga pangangailangan,” he added.
Roque said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) deployed a total of 25,000 food packs to affected families in Eastern Visayas. DSWD OIC-Secretary Emmanuel Leyco also said the agency has opened 608 evacuation centers to accommodate 44,000 storm-hit families.
Meanwhile, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana assured the military’s readiness to provide aid to victims of the calamity. He announced the arrival of a ship from Cebu on Monday, December 18, to carry relief goods for the survivors.
“Rest assured that our military here, we have the military commanders here… The military will be here to assist you in whatever way they can,” Lorenzana said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and other agencies are also conducting rescue operations for the missing victims of landslides caused by Urduja.
AFP Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, for his part, said the military’s major service components in the area are all geared up to pursue disaster response operations and to deliver the government’s relief services to the people.
“Sa panig po ng Armed Forces, umasa lang po kayo na ang ating mga sundalo dito sa area ay nakaantabay at nakahanda para tumulong sa anumang pangangailangan ng ating mga mamamayan,” Guerrero said.
On the health sector, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III assured residents of Biliran and other affected areas that the government has enough medicine and health services for affected families.
He said the department’s regional office remains responsive to the needs of the victims, adding that it has deployed P4.5 million worth of medicines for the survivors. Moreover, Duque said a team of health officials will come from Cebu to complement the existing capacities of the DOH’s Region 8 office.
“We would like to complement their efforts to create the desired impact, so that our people here will certainly feel that government is very much present,” Duque noted.
Gov’t to assess damages caused by Urduja
Apart from delivering immediate relief services to the victims, government agencies are also focused on assessing the damages caused by Urduja.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol reported that the estimated damage to agriculture and fisheries stands at more than P30 million. He assured Eastern Visayas farmers that the department has a prepared set of interventions, such as loaning programs, which would assist them in their recovery.
As for the damaged infrastructure, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said Urduja brought minimal damage to Tacloban’s sea ports and air ports, which remain operational. Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said the DPWH is working fulltime to repair all damaged roads and bridges at the soonest possible time.
On the repair of damaged power supplies, Department of Energy (DOE) Undersecretary Felix Fuentebella said the government should first ensure people’s safety before they could fully restore energy facilities in the region. He said the DOE is targeting to restore power in storm-hit areas by December 21. ###PCO-Content