Deaths climb to 112 as PBBM calls for better flood control to save lives
Damage to agriculture and infrastructure from severe tropical storm “Paeng” ballooned to over P2 billion, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Tuesday, as its death toll has climbed to 112.
The NDRRMC said damage to agriculture was at almost P1.3 billion so far, with the Bicol Region the hardest hit with over P700 million in damage, followed by Western Visayas with P293 million, and Central Luzon with P233.7 million.
Damage to infrastructure was at P760 million. Bicol Region was again the hardest with P375 million in damage, followed by Central Visayas with P272 million, and Northern Mindanao with P110 million.
Of the fatalities, 79 were already confirmed to be typhoon-related while 31 are yet to be validated. A total of 33 other people were still missing.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said it was important to address climate change and flood control to avoid mass casualties during tropical cyclones.
Talking to Bangsamoro regional and local officials, Mr. Marcos noted that some areas that were not known to be flood-prone were among those heavily inundated during the storm.
He said this was undeniably the effect of climate change.
Mr. Marcos said tree planting should be part of the government’s flood control efforts, as it “will really save lives.”
He said that on an aerial survey of the damage wrought by Paeng, he noticed that the mountains had been denuded.
Several countries said they would help with relief and recovery efforts.
The US embassy said it helped transport 10,000 family food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development to Cotabato.
“An additional 25 trucks are mobilizing to deliver emergency food and relief supplies to families affected by the storm… We stand with our Filipino #FriendsPartnersAllies in this time of crisis,” the US Embassy said in a Facebook post.
China said it donated the first batch of disaster relief materials to the Datu Odin Sinsuat, North Maguindanao Province, which was hit hard by floods brought on by Paeng.
The Chinese Embassy said it brought thousands of cases of distilled water, instant noodles, water containers, rice, toothbrushes, coffee,isopropyl alcohol, and anti-mosquito gels to the affected areas in Mindanao.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa said Tokyo was “ready to provide the maximum possible assistance to the Philippines.”
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu also offered assistance.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, too, said his government was prepared to help.
The Philippine Red Cross on Tuesday said it welcomes donations to support its ongoing relief operations for families affected by Paeng.
As of Monday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that over P51 million worth of humanitarian assistance has been provided to affected communities by government and humanitarian partners.
As the storm left the Philippine area of responsibility Monday, some 865,000 residents were still displaced, with some of them taking shelter in 2,728 evacuation centers nationwide.
The storm damaged some 5,000 homes and destroyed around 1,000 houses, the NDRRMC reported. It said the damage to these houses was estimated at P12.41 million.
Some 294 areas lost power during the storm, but 140 of them now have electricity.
As of Tuesday, 160 areas were placed under a state of calamity, which allows the government to tap calamity funds, impose a price freeze on basic commodities and offer zero-interest loans.
The state weather forecaster warned that a low-pressure area could bring more rains in parts of Mindanao still reeling from Paeng.
Provincial officials said 61 people were killed in Maguindanao—more than half of the death toll so far—and 17 were still missing.
The storm also affected 622,505 people—or 124,501 families—in the province.
In a situation briefing in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte, the President acknowledged that typhoon victims are asking for medicine, and he instructed the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to facilitate the distribution of medical kits.
“We will have to supply them with the medicines they need. That’s one aspect we failed to focus on,” he said.
Urging swift action, Mr. Marcos noted that common ailments can be cured by non-prescription medicine. He said there should also be close coordination with military doctors and medical workers to ensure the immediate distribution of medical supplies.
In response, DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo said the agency would begin distributing health kits to typhoon victims.
A total of 741,777 families or 2,418,249 people in 17 regions nationwide have so far been affected by Paeng, according to the situation report by NDRRMC on Tuesday.
About 329,299 families or 859,981 people are taking temporary shelter inside and outside evacuation centers.
During his visit to Maguindanao, Mr. Marcos also distributed goods and financial assistance to the typhoon victims.
He also advised the Bangsamoro government to adopt the “standard package” being distributed by the DSWD to the typhoon victims.
“If you’re going to make your own packs, let’s have it similar to the ones being distributed by the DSWD because that comes from long experience [and the agency knows] what are the needs of the victims of a calamity like this,” the President said.
He also urged the Bangsamoro government to coordinate with local government units (LGUs).
Mr. Marcos also said it was vital to establish a district office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to ensure the immediate repair of damaged infrastructure.
This, he said, would enable the BARMM to effectively and efficiently respond to emergencies.
Noticing bottlenecks in the distribution of relief, the President also stressed the importance of improving standard operating procedures for assisting victims of natural disasters.
He also said there was no need to ensure that some people weren’t getting double their rations.
“So what if they receive two food packs? Give out everything,” he said in Filipino. “Will they get rich if they receive two food packs? They will not get rich.”
“There is no such thing as an excess of relief goods. No such thing,” he added. “We have to give everything that we have. It doesn’t matter if they have the ticket. Just give them relief goods because they have nothing to eat. That is something that we can improve on.”
After the situation briefing, Mr. Marcos led the relief efforts for victims of Paeng that hit the BARMM.
He distributed the food packs and assistance to the victims who are currently taking temporary shelter in one of the evacuation centers in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte.
In his speech, Mr. Marcos said concerned government agencies would continue assisting to ensure the fast recovery of disaster victims.
He said the government would also grant cash aid worth between P5,000 and P10,000 to help them rebuild their homes.
The Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), upon Mr. Marcos’ directive, vowed to attend to the needs of people who have been severely affected by the tropical cyclone.
In a statement on Tuesday, PCUP chairperson Undersecretary Elpidio Jordan Jr. said he has directed all the field operations offices of the commission to conduct quick response to affected urban poor families.
In other developments:
• The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines said Tuesday that power transmission operations in Luzon are back to normal after it completed the restoration of lines affected by tropical storm Paeng. The NGCP also said it has normalized transmission services in the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Pangasinan, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Laguna, Quezon, Batangas, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Aklan, and Antique.
• The country’s two largest telecom companies said they have restored their network services in Metro Manila and other areas after Paeng swept over several provinces. Globe has fully restored call, text, and data connectivity in all Metro Manila areas where service was affected by the storm. All services have also been fully restored in Laguna, Palawan, Masbate, and Western Samar, the company said. PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. said it has fully restored network services in Leyte.
• The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reminded business establishments in areas under a state of calamity to adhere to the price freeze on basic necessities.
• Manila Rep. Joel Chua said he opposed the idea of a year-long state of calamity due to Paeng. In contrast, Senate President Migz Zubiri said he believes that the President should declare a national state of calamity in the wake of Tropical Storm Paeng, echoing the call of the NDRRMC.
Marcos has rejected the NDRRMC recommendation, saying there was no need to declare a national state of calamity. With Darwin Amojelar and Macon Ramos-Araneta