Much of the Typhoon Rolly-lashed Bicol Region remained in pitch darkness Tuesday night, with still no electricity in the provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, and Sorsogon in Bicol region, according to the National Electrification Administration on Tuesday.
NEA said in a statement that as of 7am November 3, restoration was continuing to the remaining affected households under the coverage area of the Masbate Electric Cooperative, Inc. (MASELCO).
It said Ticao Island Electric Cooperative, Inc. (TISELCO) reported power fully restored to the municipalities of Batuan, San Fernando, and San Jacinto; and partially restored to Monreal.
The statement coincided with an appeal for help from Tabaco City in Albay, where thousands were left homeless and damge pegged at P2 billion.
Tabaco City needs food, water, and housing materials, said Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro
“Tabaco was directly hit by typhoon Rolly. Fifty percent of the homes are damaged in various stages of unrepair,” Luistro said on ANC.
Heritage structures such as the century-old St. John The Baptist Church were also not spared by Rolly. As of Tuesday, communication and power lines were still down.
“We anticipate there will be no electricity until December,” Luistro said, citing previous experience with typhoon Nina in 2016 where restoration activities took several months.
At the same time, the mayor of Guinobatan, Albay on Tuesday said residents in areas prone to lahar flows should be relocated as a long-term solution to keep them safe from the hazard.
Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB, Guinobatan Mayor Ann Gemma Ongjoco was also hoping the national government will help the town to do the relocation with a livelihood program.
She noted the local government unit (LGU) already secured a property where new houses can be built.
But she pointed out that they need the help of the national government and non-government organizations for the housing project.
NEA said in its statement Camarines Sur I, II, III and IV Electric Cooperatives (CASURECO I, II, III & IV), Camarines Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CANORECO), Albay Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ALECO/APEC), and Sorsogon I and II Electric Cooperatives (SORECO I & II) reported unavailability of transmission services.
But the Department of Energy is targeting to partially restore electricity in Naga City in typhoon-hit Camarines Sur by November 3.
“We are developing if we can energize already a portion of Naga City by today. We are developing this strategy because the transmission line from Tayabas, Quezon to Naga City – line 2 – one of the lines
there of 250 kilovolts (kV), is already energized,” Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said during a televised Palace briefing.
In CALABARZON, efforts are ongoing to restore service in areas covered by the Quezon I Electric Cooperative, Inc. (QUEZELCO I), First Laguna Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FLECO), and Batangas I and II Electric Cooperatives (BATELEC I & II).
NEA said that in MIMAROPA, the Marinduque Electric Cooperative, Inc. (MARELCO) and Romblon Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ROMELCO) reported power interruptions also occured in some of their coverage areas.
In Eastern Visayas, Northern Samar Electric Cooperative, Inc. (NORSAMELCO) and the Samar II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SAMELCO II) reported power has been fully restored to most areas.
Restoration is ongoing to the remaining affected municipalities: three towns under NORSAMELCO, and two under SAMELCO II.
The NEA Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Department report also showed that the initial cost of damage incurred by the affected Ecs from the typhoon is pegged at P30.5 million.
Meanwhile, transmission operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines also reported Tuesday that several 69k transmission lines were affected by typhoon Rolly.
This includes Gumaca-Lopez 69kV Line, Naga-Libmanan 69kV Line, Naga-Lagonoy 69kV Line, Naga-Tinambac 69kV Line , Naga-Iriga 69kV Line, Daraga-Sorsogon 69kV Line, Sorsogon-Bulan 69kV Line, Sorsogon-Sorsogon 69kV Line, Ligao-Dunao 69kV Line, Daraga-Ligao 69kV Line, Daraga-Legazpi 69kV Line and Daraga-Sto. Domingo 69kV Line.
There are also 11 230kV lines and one 350kV line which remain unavailable.
“NGCP has mobilized a total of 21 line crews, with 32 additional line gangs coming in from North Luzon, NCR, Visayas, and Mindanao, and is currently conducting aerial and ground patrols to assess the impact of the tropical storm to expedite restoration of affected facilities,” the company said.
Meanwhile, a legislator has proposed to President Duterte the creation of a special task force to take charge of rehabilitating Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay and other areas in Bicol and Calabarzon
(Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) following the ravages of the one-week-apart onslaught of super typhoons Quinta and Rolly.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte made the proposal as he welcomed President Duterte’s aerial inspection of the distressed areas in Bicol and Calabarzon, saying this would somehow give the Chief Executive immediate and first-hand information on the extent of the havoc wrought by super typhoons Quinta and Rolly on the badly hit provinces.
Villafuerte's proposal was contained in a resolution filed at the House of Representatives urging the President to "come up with a comprehensive Bicol rehabilitation program, in response to the heavy devastation by super typhoon Rolly," to include the provision of "immediate relief, recovery and reconstruction for rebuilding a better Bicol," in the aftermath of what has been dubbed the world's strongest typhoon in 2020.
In the House resolution, Villafuerte said the cyclone made its weekend landfall in Bicol, toppling the transmission lines of 10 electric cooperatives resulting to province-wide power outages; displacing 390,000 of some 1 million evacuees; and damaging billions of pesos worth of standing crops and infrastructure in hundreds of thousands of farmlands across the region.
In CamSur, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has passed Resolution 235 declaring a state of calamity for the province, to enable the provincial government to use available public funds for relief and other forms of assistance to typhoon-battered families.
Parts of the province were placed under "Signal No. 5" category at the height of the latest tropical cyclone.
‘A considerable amount of time and effort is needed from the national government to get the devastated provinces back on their feet soon enough following the magnitude of destruction wrought by two of the most powerful storms to hit the country,” Villafuerte said.
“Hence, the need for the national government to set up a special task force to oversee the major rehabilitation work.”
He said this special body could be akin to Task Force Bangon Marawi, which Malacañang created three years ago to work on the rehabilitation of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, in the wake of its five-month siege by an alliance of Islamic State-aligned terrorists.
The legislator, who was once CamSur governor, appealed to the Department of Budget and Management to set aside funds for flood control projects for disaster-prone areas in Bicol, as had been committed by President Duterte himself in the past.
Villafuerte recalled for the DBM that during a situation briefing in the capital town of Pili following the year-ago super typhoon Usman, President Duterte bared his plan to abolish the graft-ridden Road
Board and put its multibillion-peso funds to better use, particularly for flood-control projects in Bicol.
The President announced this plan after Villafuerte suggested at the briefing that a viable solution to chronic flooding is the dredging and desilting of the Bicol River.
Villafuerte’s province is the region’s lowest-lying area making it a catch basin for floodwaters from other Bicol provinces whenever typhoons strike the region.
“The national government could carry out the rehabilitation of the typhoon-battered provinces along with the dredging and desilting of the Bicol River in the remaining two years of the Duterte presidency,” Villafuerte said.
Camarines Sur is one of the Bicol provinces that bore the brunt of the two weekend super typhoons whose toll on human lives, homes, business establishments, agricultural crops and infrastructure still have to be fully accounted for at this time.
Cyclone Rolly alone is considered to be the strongest land-falling tropical depression ever to hit the Philippines, hitting CamSur last weekend with maximum winds of 225 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 310 kph.
According to the preliminary damage report released by Luzena Bermeo of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) secretariat, super typhoon Rolly affected 251,000 families, 24,458 farmers and 34,350 fishefolk in the province’s 1,036 barangays; destroyed P752 million-worth of crops and P13.3 million-worth of municipal and inland fisheries stocks; and damaged P1.9 billion-worth of infrastructure like roads, bridges, dams, irrigation systems, school buildings and government facilities.
The biggest damage from the week-ago super typhoon Quinta was also reported in CamSur, with an estimated 4,400 hectares of standing palay crops destroyed and valued at P225 million.
Meanwhile, the government will hire at least 5,000 informal workers to help clean streets and remove debris along roads in Catanduanes which was damaged by the onslaught of typhoon “Rolly”, Malacanang said Tuesday.
In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III informed him the department would temporarily tap thousands of workers, particularly those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic to help clean up the streets of Catanduanes.
Roque said the hiring of workers under the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) was the response on the request of Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua.
“Kindly tell Gov. Cua, Secretary Roque, that I will send the amount to hire at least 5,000 people to clean the streets and the debris of Typhoon Rolly. The money has been downloaded, please tell him, Secretary Harry,” Bello told Roque in a phone conversation during a Palace press briefing.
The Palace officials said that the governor of Catanduanes had appealed to the national government to help them remove debris and rubbles that block roads and streets and is in need to hire employees to clean the left behind by the typhoon after it ravaged the province on Sunday.
The streets need to be cleared for the delivery of relief goods to be able to enter the province.
TUPAD beneficiaries are given emergency employment and are paid the minimum wage prevailing in their respective areas.
In a related development, the PLDT Group said they were exerting all efforts to restore services to Catanduanes which bore the brunt of Typhoon Rolly’s fury.
“Our technical teams are working round-the-clock to provide vital communication links to the province," Cathy Yap-Yang, PLDT and Smart First Vice President and Head of Group Corporate Communications said.
Yap-Yang also said that additional technical teams and equipment as well as satellite phones had also been dispatched to Catanduanes to help connect the province to the rest of country.
Meanwhile, pre-positioned teams in affected provinces have already started restoration work after the story passed. Services have normalized in Albay, Batangas, Bulacan, Camarines Sur and Norte,
Pampanga, Northern Samar, Tarlac and Zambales, except in areas affected by commercial power outages and transport-related concerns.
PLDT and Smart have also set up Libreng Tawag and Libreng Charging stations in hardest hit provinces in the Bicol region such as Camarines Sur and Norte, Albay and Sorsogon.
In partnership with Alagang Kapatid Foundation, PLDT-Smart Foundation and Philippine Business for Social Progress, PLDT and Smart have also mobilized an initial 5,000 packs to affected communities, particularly in the areas of Bicol region and Marinduque.