FOLLOWING his visit to areas devastated by typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) during the weekend, President Duterte committed P2 billion worth of government aid in typhoon-hit areas.
In a radio interview on Sunday, Acting presidential spokesperson Karlo B. Nograles said the President made the commitment, when he met local chief executives in the affected areas.
“He told the governors, whom he talked with yesterday (Dec. 18) to help with the needs of the victims of typhoon Odette,” Nograles said.
Duterte visited Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands and Maasin City in Southern Leyte on Saturday to personally assess the impact of Odette.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go joined President Duterte in an aerial inspection of the hardest-hit areas in Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands and Southern Leyte.
During the situational briefing in Maasin City, Duterte pledged to release P1 billion in calamity funds to the affected local government units and another P1 billion to the concerned government agencies, saying the government is aiming for the “earliest return to normalcy.”
He directed officials to make sure funds are available for the procurement of food, medicines and other essential needs, according to Senator Go’s office.
Citing the latest data from the Office of Civil Defense, Nograles said the typhoon affected at least 780,000 people in 2,322 barangays.
He also noted that based on the initial report, there were 31 deaths attributed to Odette.
Duterte ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) to immediately restore power and communication services, respectively, in the affected areas.
The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) was also tasked to check the seaworthiness of the sea vessels in Siargao and Dinagat Islands to allow the resumption of inter-island travel and fast track relief operations in the said areas.
Other issues which Duterte wants to be immediately addressed are the immediate distribution of relief goods to the affected communities and their housing needs.
He assigned Social Welfare Secretary Rolando D. Bautista to serve as the crisis manager in Siargao and Dinagat Islands to ensure the swift deployment of food and non-food items in the said areas.
Bautista will be assisted in the task by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has around P1 billion worth of prepositioned food packs and non-food items in the typhoon-hit areas, according to Nograles.
Duterte also deployed the presidential yacht, BRP Ang Pangulo, to serve as floating hospital in the said areas.
Once a certain degree of normalcy is restored in the affected areas, Nograles said the government will also be deploying food-for-work and cash-for-work in the affected communities especially in Surigao, Siargao and Dinagat Islands.
Nograles said the President is determined to first visit other areas ravaged by Odette including CARAGA and Leyte before he makes a public report on the overall impact of the typhoon and the government response in the affected areas.