President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he will visit this weekend parts of southern and central Philippines that were ravaged by Typhoon Odette.
This developed as Malacanang assured immediate assistance to families affected by the year’s strongest storm, saying concerned government agencies were working round the clock.
The Department of Health (DOH) had prepositioned more than P12.35 million worth of drugs, medicines, and other medical supplies to provinces affected by the typhoon.
In a Dec. 16 situational report released on Friday, the DOH said over P66 million worth of commodities is also available for deployment at its central office warehouse.
Meanwhile, China is ready to assist victims of Odette, its embassy in Manila said Friday.
On Twitter, the Chinese also expressed sadness over the devastation wrought by the typhoon in the Visayas and Mindanao.
During a televised meeting, Duterte asked Office of Civil Defense (OCD) administrator Ricardo Jalad whether Surigao airport was operational.
Jalad said the terminal on Siargao Island was damaged, but its runway was usable.
“I am flying tomorrow to the area. Also, I would maybe hit Leyte, Surigao, and if there is enough time, Bohol, then the day after I will try to visit Cebu, then dito sa eastern side of the islands, Bacolod, Iloilo,” Duterte told Jalad.
The President then asked for updates on Iloilo, to which Jalad replied that authorities were still gathering information on Region 6.
“I am not so much worried about damage to the structure, infrastructures of the government… Ang takot ko kung maraming namatay (I am more fearful of casualties). I am as eager as you to go there, to see for myself,” said Duterte.
He said officials are “trying to raise money” for the typhoon response as the COVID-19 crisis has “depleted” the national budget.
“We are trying to scrimp how much we can raise so that we can marshal it to areas affected,” the President said.
Cabinet Secretary and acting Presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said more than 83,026 families or 332,855 individuals were evacuated in Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and in the Zamboanga Peninsula, as the typhoon battered the southern half of the country.
Nograles said thousands of families affected by the typhoon were evacuated to safety and provided with food packs.
The Departments of Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare and Development, the Health and Local Governments were all coordinating to provide safety and ensure the immediate needs of the people in areas hit by the typhoon, Nograles said.
The DPWH reported that several road sections in Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Caraga regions are now impassable to all types of vehicles.
Several road sections now have limited access due to flooding, landslides, fallen trees, and damaged bridges left by the typhoon, the department added.
DPWH Acting Secretary Roger Mercado said total closures were recorded for two road sections in Central Visayas, five in Northern Mindanao, and eight in Caraga.
“DPWH Quick Response Teams are closely-monitoring and working on clearing remaining closed roads in close coordination with concerned local government units,” Mercado said.
Meanwhile, the DOH Health Emergency Management Bureau, including its Centers for Health Development, had raised their code alert while continuing to monitor and report untoward incidents in their respective area of responsibility.
It added that the Philippine Red Cross has also made available water tankers in North Cotabato, Passi, Bacolod, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Albay, and Batangas.
“Saddened to learn that Typhoon Odette has devastated and caused severe damages to families in the Visayas and Mindanao regions,” the Chinese embassy said.
“We stand in solidarity with all affected Filipino families in facing this challenge and are willing to offer assistance to help them tide over the difficulties in the spirit of Bayanihan,” it added.