The Maguindanao provincial government will decide on Monday whether to continue looking for the 17 people who went missing in the aftermath of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.
In an interview on radio dzBB Sunday, Maguindanao Provincial Administrator Cyrus Torreña said Paeng left at least 63 dead and 17 missing in the province amid floods and landslides.
Torreña said he scheduled a meeting with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office to decide on their next move regarding the 17 people as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) already advised them to give up the search and rescue operations and shift to retrieval operations.
He said taking this advice would mean they expected no more survivors.
Torreña said fewer than 4,000 people remained in evacuation centers.
Meanwhile, Speaker Martin Romualdez on Sunday thanked his colleagues at the House of Representatives and the private sector for responding to his call for cash and in-kind donations to assist victims of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.
The repacking of relief goods in Congress wound down as nearly all donated items were dispatched and delivered to communities requesting aid.
The relief operations, however, will continue and incoming donations will just be moved to a nearby warehouse for safekeeping prior to delivery to communities affected by Paeng since the House of Representatives will resume its regular sessions today.
The Speaker previously made an appeal on his Facebook page for aid of whatever kind on behalf of Paeng victims, to which many representatives and donors from the private sector responded with an outpouring of donations.
The relief drive has accumulated a total of over P26 million worth of “in-kind” donations and pledges such as blankets, food items, and toiletries, as well as over P49 million in cash donations and pledges.
The Speaker also thanked Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo for helping his colleagues whose constituents were affected by Paeng through the department’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.
Tulfo on Sunday said the officers and personnel in Region 4A have done nothing wrong in the distribution of cash aid to typhoon victims Paeng in Noveleta, Cavite amid complaints of Mayor Dino Chua.
He ordered Region 4A director Barry Chua and Assistant Director Mylah Guitterez to go back to their posts after they were temporarily transferred to the DSWD central office on Nov. 3.
His decision was the result of an investigation conducted by the agency’s main office.
“There was no question about the distribution of food packs to 500 people who queued the line on that day because all of them received the food,” he said.
“What Mayor Chua was complaining about is that the DSWD personnel would ask for various documents from those seeking help,” he added.
He stressed it is the agency’s policy that during calamities, the ones asking for aid must have be able to present an identification card, or if not, they must be in the list of the local government unit or the barangay has endorsed the beneficiary.
He maintained that their personnel in Region 4A just followed the correct policies.
“The problem arose when out of the 500 people from the LGU, only 200 of them were on the list, while the barangay officials could not identify the remaining 300 at the payout site,” he said.
“We need to present to the Commission on Audit a proof if we are asked who the beneficiaries or where the cash aid went to,” he added.
In July, Tulfo directed the removal of the indigency and residency certificate, barangay ID and other documents as requirements for receiving aid from the DSWD in times of calamity.
“They (LGU) brought the people to the payout site but out of the 500 supposed beneficiaries, 200 had IDs or had been identified by the barangay. The rest were not listed (at the LGU) or not known by village officials,” he added.
“I’m sure, Mayor Chua knows that and he understands all these COA rules. Last Friday, we explained to him, and everything was already settled for all parties,” he said.
Meanwhile, some towns and cities in Samar and Leyte, including Tacloban, have declared a suspension of classes and work on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to commemorate the 9th anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
In separate executive orders, Mayors Alfred Romualdez, Ed Ong, Remedios Petilla, and Percival Ortillo Jr. suspended classes in all levels and work in government offices in Tacloban City, Carigara, and Palo in Leyte, as well as in Marabut town in Samar.