Relief goods airdropped in remote areas hit by Yolanda

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas asks barges in ports to prioritize transporting relief goods and fuel

WELCOME. Filipino typhoon victims rush to get relief goods from a US Navy Sea Hawk helicopter in the super typhoon devastated town of Salcedo, Samar. Photo by Francis Malasig/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – The idea was dropped earlier because of its supposed risks, but in order to reach the far-flung areas also affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the government had no choice but to start airdropping relief goods.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, in a press briefing at the Leyte Sports Center on Saturday, November 16, said 830 food packs were chopper-dropped to remote barangays (villages) in Eastern Visayas.

Kasi ang bagsak nitong mga sako ng bigas ay nasa munisipyo; ‘yung mga remote barangays sa bundok ay mahirap din makapunta sila sa banwa, sa bayan, so therefore, china-chopper drop sila,” he added.

(These sacks of rice are brought to the municipal hall; people in remote villages in the mountains find it hard to travel to the city so [relief goods are] chopper-dropped.)

Local and international aid started pouring in a few days after the strongest typhoon in recent history made landfall in parts of the Visayas Friday, November 8, hitting the region of Eastern Visayas the hardest. (READ: Yolanda and the world’s strongest storms)

Earlier this week, Philippine Air Force spokesperson Colonel Miguel Okol told Rappler airdropping may “effect more chaos and law and order issues,” and despite its speed may even waste goods in the end. (READ: Why they won’t airdrop relief goods)

Two towns to go

As of Saturday, 38 out of 40 Leyte towns have already received goods, and sacks of rice delivered to each town doubled – from 30 sacks per town on Thursday, November 14, to 60 sacks per town on Friday, November 15. (READ: Relief goods reach 38 out of 40 Leyte towns)

But Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Wednesday, November 13, that aid will reach all 40 towns of Leyte as early as Thursday, November 14. (READ: ‘Relief to reach 40 Leyte towns Thursday’)

Presidential Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said deliveries have picked up since roads had already been cleared for trucks to easily travel from Tacloban and Ormoc – cities being used as relief operation hubs.

“The problem is with logistics, not lack of coordination or being disorganized. The airports and sea ports are just really fully loaded,” he added, saying more routes are also being explored.

In Tacloban City, Roxas said representatives of 102 out of 138 villages already dropped by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) center in the city to fetch relief goods and bring them to their respective villages. The department expected to aid all 138 villages by Saturday. 

When going in

With hundreds of cargo trucks trying to cross to Tacloban via both the Allen and Matnog port, Roxas said Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya is already looking for more operators of roll on/roll off (RoRo) ships.

Currently, there are only 4 barges with contracts as RoRo vessels. (READ: Line at Matnog Port reaches at least 6 km)

He also asked barges to prioritize transporting relief goods and fuel. “The private vehicles, we understand them so let’s give way – 75% for relief, 25% for private vehicles…[Because] how can we use [the goods] here if they’re stuck there?” Roxas said in a mix of English and Filipino.

He also asked volunteers arriving in the city and other affected areas to make sure they are “self-contained” lest they add up to the concerns of the government.

“You have to be self-contained because you cannot expect anything here. The normal, regular systems that are present in an urban setting are not available here. [You have to have] shelter, food, fuel that can last 3 to 4 days, and a vehicle,” he said. – Rappler.com

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