President Rodrigo Duterte is encouraging illegal loggers to help cut off fallen trees in areas affected by Typhoon Odette last December and use it as materials to build houses.
In his talk to the people, Duterte said he was willing to pay small-time illegal loggers to help cut felled trees and assured them that they would not be arrested.
He said all they would have to do was “to go to the office of (Environment Secretary) Gen. [Roy] Cimatu, get a permit to operate a chainsaw to cut fallen trees.”
“I am encouraging the illegal loggers to go back there. Somebody will take a census or whatever and make it a formal document, and I will pay you,” Duterte said.
The President also urged members of the New People’s Army to help in cutting fallen trees.
“You members of the NPA, listen to me, surrender your firearms to the Army for safekeeping and tell the soldiers you will surrender your firearms because you have a job for Duterte,” he said.
Duterte said that the fallen trees could be used to build houses.
More than 339,000 individuals who were rendered homeless due to the typhoon are still staying in 1,146 evacuation centers, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Meanwhile, President Duterte wants the government to build safe temporary shelters for the families affected by Typhoon Odette in the far-flung communities.
“Are they sheltered in the sense that there is a whatever protection for them against rain and those cold nights? Were they provided with such kind of material to build temporary shelters, not houses?” Duterte asked Office of the Civil Defense Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad.
The latter was reporting on the ongoing government-led response efforts for the Odette victims during the President’s prerecorded Talk to the People aired on Tuesday morning.
Jalad said the affected families were already provided with emergency shelter materials while the government is assisting them to rebuild their typhoon-damaged houses.
He said carpentry teams from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Bureau of Fire Protection were already deployed in Eastern Visayas (Region 8) to help the people rebuild and reconstruct their destroyed houses. Some of them were temporarily staying with their relatives.
Duterte said he also wanted to find out if the inhabitants within temporary shelters were already vaccinated against the dreaded COVID-19 infections.
“Because if not yet and the health workers are still in there, let’s just use the assets of the Coast Guard and their fast craft. It’s really fast. Let’s just deliver the vaccines, so we can have it all in. You know, the other areas are far-flung communities. It would be hard for us to go there because it’s remote areas, then we’ll look for people to get vaccinated,” said Duterte.
According to the data released by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on January 19, the number of families affected by “Odette” has reached a total 2,336,249, more than a month after it swept through many areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.
These affected families, or equivalent to 8,329,076 individuals, are in 8,910 barangays in Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao region, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The strong typhoon damaged 1,369,433 houses, including 344,650 classified as totally damaged, the NDRMMC said.
Jalad also said the National Housing Authority was at present implementing its emergency shelter assistance and had downloaded
around P487 million to local government units.
Aside from the NHA, around P4.8 billion in funds from the Department of Budget and Management for the same purpose had been downloaded to local government units, he added.
Jalad also reported that the Department of Social Welfare and Development had distributed a total 786,000 family food packs worth
P440 million to Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and Caraga.