LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Sarangani Rep Manny Pacquiao pledged support for the victims of Typhoon “Pablo” (Bopha) that has left a quarter million homeless and killed over 400 people.
“I am aware of what is going on, and my prayers are with the people of the Philippines,” Pacquiao said while in Las Vegas to prepare for his fight with Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez this weekend.
“I have people who are monitoring the situation, and they will handle anything I asked them to do,” said the congressman hailing from typhoon-hit Mindanao.
“I’ll go out and raise money for the people who were affected,” Pacquiao said. “I have helped my countrymen before, and I will do whatever they ask me to do to help.”
Pacquiao said his district was not severely affected by the typhoon but he is willing to assist in any way he can. He is the lone representative of Sarangani and is running for reelection next year.
His fight pushes through with the backdrop of the disaster back home.
Reports said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr issued 16 travel authorities to the US for lawmakers planning to watch Pacquiao’s match despite the devastation and legislative work.
The House of Representatives is struggling to maintain quorum to tackle measures like the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill, which aims to provide access to natural and modern family planning methods. The chamber wants a vote on the measure by next week.
Death toll, damage rising
Typhoon Pablo tore through Mindanao on Tuesday, flattening whole towns as hurricane-force winds combined with torrential rain to trigger floods and landslides, officials said.
Pablo has left more than 400 dead and hundreds injured or missing, and authorities expect the death toll to rise once they are able to reach isolated villages in Mindanao.
President Benigno Aquino III has sent food and other supplies to 150,000 people on Mindanao’s east coast where towns remain cut off by landslides and downed bridges. Aquino is set to visit the worst-hit areas on Friday, December 7.
Rescuers said they were looking for hundreds of missing people and that 250,000 were seeking shelter in schools, gyms and other buildings after losing their homes.
The cost of damage to agriculture and infrastructure by typhoon “Pablo” has topped P4 billion, the National Risk Reduction and Risk Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Friday, December 7.
Of the total, agriculture suffered the biggest losses with P3,365,534,688 in damaged crops, livestocks and fisheries, while roads, bridges and other infrastructure worth P630,970,000 must now be repaired.
Compostela Valley — where 150,000 depend on the banana industry — alone lost almost P3.5-B in crops, the NDRRMC said in its 6 am situation update. – Rappler.com, with a report from Agence France-Presse.