Where’s PNoy at the height of Maring?

President Benigno Aquino III has been actively monitoring the storm and has personally called department secretaries on their phones for updates, says Interior Secretary Mar Roxas

MISSING? President Benigno Aquino III has not visited evacuation centers but government officials say he is closely monitoring the situation. File photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – With a growing list of localities put under a state of calamity, government officials are out in full force to assist those affected by heavy rains brought by tropical storm Maring and the southwest monsoon.

But President Benigno Aquino III has yet to be seen.

On Tuesday, August 20, the Palace said Aquino had rescheduled all his engagements for the day due to the torrential downpour. Aquino has not visited affected areas.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda explained Aquino’s low profile.

“As in the past, at the height of rescue and relief operations, the President does not want resources and personnel diverted to him visiting a site,” he told Rappler in a text message.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas also gave assurances that Aquino has been closely monitoring the situation, adding that the President has personally called department secretaries on their phones for updates.

The Philippine Information Agency also quoted him as saying a command center has been set up in Malacañang for regions affected by the storm, and which need help from the national government.

Lacierda said Aquino “has instructed all appropriate agencies to mobilize government resources.” 

More than 600,000 people have been affected nationwide.

Officials in Marikina

Roxas was joined by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino as they visited Marikina, one of the areas most affected by the rains.

Roxas said the Department of the Interior and Local Government provided Marikina with vehicles to help in rescue operations.

The DSWD is also set to prepare 100,000 relief packs for distribution. Soliman said over 199 evacuation sites have provided food packs to over 9,100 families or 41,000 individuals.

Thus far, the department has offered assistance totaling about P4.4 million.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan Purisima was also poised to visit the PNP Region IV-A office to supervise typhoon relief and rescue operations especially in Cavite and Laguna, both of which have been placed under a state of calamity.

Being put under a state of calamity means calamity funds are readily released to affected areas to help those in need, and prices of basic goods are controlled to prevent price increases.

Meanwhile the Philippine Information Agency in NCR said the Department of Health (DOH) has placed all hospitals and health centers in Metro Manila and other affected areas under Code White status. This means they have a sufficient supply of medicine and that all medical staff are available to treat patients and flood victims. – Rappler.com