Malacañang said Friday a price freeze had been imposed in Marikina City and seven provinces in Southern Tagalog and Bicol—meaning prices of basic goods in these areas would be placed under automatic control for two months.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque identified the provinces as Batangas, Cavite, Catanduanes, Mindoro, Palawan, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
The Price Act of 1992 states that prices of basic necessities in disaster areas or those under a state of calamity “shall automatically be frozen at their prevailing prices or placed under automatic price control”.
With the declaration, Roque said the prices of basic commodities in the city and provinces mentioned would be “frozen” for 60 days.
Typhoon Ulysses made landfall in Quezon province on Wednesday night, bringing torrential rains and ferocious winds in several areas including the National Capital Region.
By Thursday morning, reports of heavy flooding and calls for rescue, mostly from Marikina and Rizal province, flooded social media as the typhoon swept through Luzon.
Roque reported the Philippine National Police had rescued 107,535 people, including 3,811 in Metro Manila as of 3 a.m. Friday.
The typhoon has so far affected 170,561 persons in 811 barangays in Cagayan Valley, Bicol, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Cordillera Administrative Region, and Metro Manila.
Some 74,721 individuals are currently served inside evacuation centers.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said it had sufficient funds allocated for providing relief assistance to Filipinos hit by the onslaught of a series of typhoons in the country.
In a virtual press briefing, DSWD Undersecretary Rene Glen Paje said the agency had total “stockpile or standby funds” amounting to P1.4 billion.
Paje said about P800 million of it would be allocated for the use of the DSWD central office and its field offices.
More than 278,000 family food packs are currently prepositioned in various typhoon-affected areas, he added.
Paje said the Department of Budget and Management had already replenished the DSWD’s quick response fund amounting to PHP600 million which can be used by the department to aid more typhoon-hit families.
“We can say that the agency is prompt to assist those who have been affected by the past typhoon onslaught,” he said.
On the other hand, Paje said the social welfare department was also ensuring that those evacuees were provided with health-protective gears, so that they would also be protected against the risks of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while staying at the evacuation centers.
He added the agency, in coordination with the local government units, would also respond to the minimum health standards imposed to combat the dreaded Covid-19.
Paje said the government was also monitoring the health status of the evacuees to prevent the COVID-19 transmission within the evacuation sites.
Paje added the DSWD had started providing assistance to the LGUs affected by Typhoon Ulysses.
Paje added there was also ongoing assistance provided for the residents affected by Super Typhoon Rolly.
Apart from family food packs, Paje said the DSWD had provided the evacuees with financial assistance.
The DSWD also conducts psychosocial interventions for those typhoon-hit families that are currently staying at the evacuation centers, to address the trauma they got following the typhoon’s onslaught, Paje added.
Paje said the DSWD had deployed several augmentation teams in all typhoon-affected areas to assist in the whole-of-government relief operations.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has launched a relief effort after Ulysses pounded parts of Luzon, causing severe flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
At the same time, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco extended his “heartfelt sympathies” to the victims for the destruction caused by Ulysses, which reportedly surpassed the water level in Marikina River during the height of Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009.
“Typhoon Ulysses was strong, but Filipinos will prove themselves stronger as we did during Ondoy and all other devastating typhoons, including the recent Quinta and Rolly,” Velasco said.
The chamber has set up a relief operation in its gymnasium as pledges for food and non-food donations have started coming in, according to House Secretary General Jocelia Bighani Sipin.
“Upon the instructions of Speaker Velasco, we are mobilizing volunteers in the House to organize relief operations so that we can roll out donations and relief goods to the typhoon victims,” Sipin said.
This developed as Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to supplement the almost, if not completely, drained, calamity funds of local government units in CamSur and other provinces that bore the brunt of the latest storm while these areas were still reeling from the crippling impact of two previous cyclones and the prolonged coronavirus pandemic.
Villafuerte appealed to the President and the Department of Budget and Management to augment the depleted calamity funds of the badly-hit provinces of Bicol, the Southern Tagalog region and other areas in Luzon as he called anew on the Congress to consider his week-ago proposal on setting aside a far bigger amount of calamity funds in the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act.
A former Camarines Sur governor, Villafuerte said even before the onslaught of the latest tropical depressions, the calamity funds of the LGUs in badly-hit places were probably depleted already, having been used for their respective localities’ Covid-19 efforts.
Velasco thanked the donors and volunteers for the “outpouring of help, assistance, kindness and sacrifice” for the sake of typhoon victims.