PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday visited typhoon victims and led the distribution of relief in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan province, one of the areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon “Lawin.”
Duterte arrived in the city at past 1 p.m. along with top officials of the government, including Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
From Tuguegarao City, Duterte was scheduled to proceed to Ilagan town in Isabela province.
Duterte was on a state visit to China when the super typhoon slammed into Cagayan and Isabela provinces last week, and arrived Friday, a day after “Lawin” exited the country.
Based on the latest consolidated report from the Office of Civil Defence in the Cordillera Administrative Region, the region recorded 14 deaths, four injured and one missing due to the occurrence of landslides and strong water currents in the various river systems. Benguet and Kalinga accounted for six deaths each while Ifugao reported two deaths all because of landslides that buried the houses of the victims at the height of the typhoon.
Disaster officials added that the CAR death toll could go higher, pending the confirmation of 16 more deaths.
On Sunday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 158,825 people were affected by the super typhoon in Cagayan Valley.
Of the number, a total of 82,948 people were affected in 28 municipalities in Cagayan province, which has been placed under a state of calamity.
The hardest hit town in the province, based on the number of persons displaced, was Enrile with 42,182 people displaced.
A total of 15,602 people in Isabela were also displaced by ‘‘Lawin.’’
Three heavily devastated provinces in the Cordillera were placed under state of calamity by their respective provincial boards after suffering from heavy damage to agriculture and infrastructure.
Apayao and Kalinga, which were under Tropical Cyclone Signal No. 5, were placed by their respective provincial boards under a state of calamity Friday, while Mountain Province was also placed under the state of calamity Saturday.
The Ifugao Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council recommended the province to be placed under a state of calamity but the resolution has yet to be acted upon by the provincial board while the Abra provincial government has yet to act on whether or not the province, where Signal No. 5 was also hoisted, will be placed under state of calamity.
Some 17,843 families or 75,634 individuals were affected by the onslaught of the typhoon. Some 976 families composed of 3,878 individuals still remained in evacuation centers or with their relatives.
The OCD-CAR reported the government was able to distribute over P4.8 million worth of assistance to the calamity victims in the different parts of the region over the past several days and such assistance was in the form of food packs for those who had left their homes and stayed in evacuation centers.
The Philippine Red Cross said Sunday that it has deployed a humanitarian caravan loaded with assets, equipment and emergency relief items to the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan to bring emergency aid to communities affected by super typhoon “Lawin.”
The caravan is composed of a rescue van, a Doosan wheel loader, a dump truck, a six-by-six multi-role truck, a 4,000-liter fuel tanker and a 10,000-liter water tanker. It also included a hot meals on wheels van, a rescue van, two Humvees, two ambulance units and two 10-wheeler trucks loaded with emergency relief items like sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins, jerry cans and hygiene kits good for 1,500 families, as well as clothing, shoes and ready-to-eat meals.
A total of 1,141 corrugated galvanized iron sheets and other shelter repair materials were also loaded on the caravan for distribution to families whose roofs were blown off by typhoon “Lawin.”
Based on initial assessments, PRC teams estimated that in affected areas, particularly in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, 80 percent of houses and community infrastructure facilities had been affected.
“There have been three devastating typhoons that have struck Northern Luzon one after the other,” said PRC Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon.
He said that while the effects of the typhoons were not as severe as those of typhoon “Yolanda” ‘‘Haiyan’’ and had averted a humanitarian crisis, the scope of damage was also a humanitarian challenge nonetheless.
“We need to give priority to those who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and stocks,” Gordon said.
PRC staff and volunteers, together with personnel from the county delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, have already been deployed in some of the affected areas like Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Abra and Isabela. With Dexter A. See, PNA
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