President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a state of calamity over the entire Luzon after three successive typhoons caused massive damage.
The proclamation was in line with a recommendation submitted Monday by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
A declaration of a state of calamity allows local governments to tap their quick response funds to expedite relief and rehabilitation efforts in their respective areas.
It also imposes price controls on basic goods and commodities in the affected areas
The three typhoons including typhoon “Rolly” said to be the world’s strongest so far this year, pummeled the country one after the other, leaving in total at least 120 people dead.
Typhoon Ulysses caused the worst floods in half a century in much of Luzon.
The floods caused by Ulysses affected more than 3 million people throughout Luzon, of which 70,784 families still remain in 2,205 evacuation centers and 41,203 are being attended to outside these centers, the NDRRMC said.
More than 40,000 homes across Luzon were damaged, 4,473 of which were destroyed.
There were 22 deaths recorded after Typhoon Quinta exited the Philippines on Oct. 27, while 25 were killed when Super Typhoon Rolly lashed the country in early November. Typhoon Ulysses, which battered Luzon last week, has left 73 people dead and 19 others still missing.
In a taped public address, Duterte stressed the need to build disaster-resilient structures where people can take refuge during calamities instead of using school buildings as evacuation centers.
He asked Senator Christopher Go to bring up his suggestion before Congress, hoping for swift legislative action.
Go earlier asked that local government units in affected areas be given the equivalent of 1 percent of their respective internal revenue allotments (IRA).
The senator also cited the need to improve coordination among various national agencies and local government units.
Despite anger over the release of water from Magat Dam by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Go said the management of dams should remain with the national government.
The release of water from Magat Dam sparked anger among residents in Cagayan province, which was already inundated by the rains brought about by Ulysses and the rising Magat River.
NIA said it followed protocol in releasing water from the dam, and used TV, radio, print, social media, e-mail, and SMS to disseminate information on the schedule of water releases.
Meanwhile, the Palace said the task force in charge of rehabilitating typhoon-hit areas will be headed by the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and DPWH Secretary Mark Villar will head the task force, not Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea as earlier reported.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it is scaling up relief operations for individuals affected by the super typhoon Rolly and typhoon Ulysses.
The assistance provided by the DSWD reached P169 million for both Rolly and Ulysses, based on data from the DSWD-Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center.
DSWD said the assistance comes in the form of family food packs, non-food items such as hygiene kits and kitchen kits.
Financial assistance is also provided for typhoon victims to help them rebuild their homes.
Typhoon Ulysses affected residents in parts of the National Capital Region (NCR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
DSWD said some 824,035 families or 3.4 million people were affected by the storm.
Super Typhoon Rolly, on the other hand, ravaged parts of NCR, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and CAR.
According to its latest report, the DSWD has rolled out P93.67 million in relief assistance.
Some 547,121 families or 1.23 million people were affected by Rolly.
The DSWD said its personnel will continue to provide technical assistance to local government units in the proper management of evacuation centers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“DSWD aims to ensure that minimum health and safety protocols are followed in evacuation centers,” the agency said.
In other developments:
* Australia has vowed to extend P28.52 million in additional relief funds to support the Philippine government’s response to areas devastated by Rolly, particularly in the Bicol region. In a statement, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines said the assistance would be used to bankroll life-saving efforts to the most affected communities and municipalities in Region 5 and provide food for the affected families and repair their damaged homes. “This support is even more critical following Typhoon Ulysses that caused further hardship for the people in the Bicol region. Australia stands with the Philippines in this time of need,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson said.
* The Department of Agriculture said losses to agriculture due to Ulysses have reached almost P4 billion. The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Operations Center said the total damage caused by the typhoon climbed to P3.84 billion, affecting 104,733 farmers and fishermen and 101,904 hectares of agricultural areas. Affected commodities include rice, corn, high value crops, fisheries, livestock, irrigation facilities, and agricultural infrastructure in the Cordillera Administrative Region, the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and the Bicol region.
* Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said the provincial government will relocate residents living in areas hit by lahar during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly, as well as those in zones around Mayon Volcano. In a briefing, Bichara said the local government has already acquired land where the new houses will be built. With PNA
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