Super Typhoon Karding cut a swath of destruction after it roared in sundown on Sunday from the Pacific and ruthlessly sliced through heavily populated Luzon, particularly the rice-rich Central Luzon plains and farther north which is still reeling from a major tremor nearly two months earlier.
Metro Manila, where nearly 13 million of the 114 million people live, and the Calabarzon region (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), were not spared as Karding, the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year, insensately whipped everyone on its path.
But thanks to presidential prescience, underlined by prudent planning, the government, through the different agencies on the ground, was physically immediate while the weather disturbance looked down on the flooded plains that destroyed hectares of agricultural crops, kilometers of roads and bridges and other infrastructure projects.
Not to mention the emotional punch inflicted by the typhoon that killed eight people, canceled incoming and outgoing flights, suspended classes and office work in affected areas.
But President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., after surveying the situation from an aircraft, gave assurances at the Office of Civil Defense briefing of a “whole range of assistance” from the government for those affected.
Straight away, the President directed agencies to airlift food materials, food packs and water into Polillo at the frontyard in the country’s eastern seaboard which was among those mercilessly hit.
The government has also intended to get the basics there, in the President’s words – “again food, water, shelter and even clothes, all of these things… The DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) is also prepared to provide AICS (assistance to individuals in crisis situations) for those that will need assistance.”
It is remarkable the government will also provide financial assistance to the displaced residents in stricken areas in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac, but only after rescue and rebuilding efforts have ended and evacuees are provided with their immediate needs.
The President said: “The whole range of assistance is prepared, is ready to go. But right now, having cash is really not very useful for them. So, we will prioritize their immediate needs and then when the time comes they can already make use of the AICS, we will give it to them.”
We share with President Marcos his pride as he saw the preparedness of frontline government agencies even before Karding hit land, relieved eventually that this one of 20 typhoons to hit the Philippines each year only caused “minimal” damage.
The President has a point, saying “I think we may have gotten lucky at least this time, a little bit. But I think it’s clear from this – from what we did these last two days is that very, very important is preparation.
“Get people out of the areas of danger. Put all of your assets that you are going to use for rescue, relief efforts, put them in place as much as possible. … It’s really in the preparation.”
We are sure the presidential guidelines are not lost on the people, exposed very often to calamities and other tragedies during the rainy season or even during summer.