‘Full force of gov’t focused on Yolanda’

Natashya Gutierrez

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'The government's full force is focused on ensuring our countrymen are far from the danger'

PREPARATIONS. The decision to close airports is part of the government's preventive measures to decrease damage brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The government on Friday, November 8, gave assurances it is exerting its “full force” to address the damage caused by Typhoon Yolanda. 

On Friday, November 8, the day one of the world’s strongest typhoons hit landfall in the Philippines, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma told reporters “the government’s full force is focused on ensuring our countrymen are far from danger.”

“Right now, various agencies of the government, headed by the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council), are on full red alert,” he said.

The Palace said 26,675 families or 125,604 people have been evacuated to 109 evacuation centers in 22 provinces, 13 cities and 73 municipalities in Regions 4-B, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and CARAGA. (READ: ‘Like we’re inside a washing machine’)

Coloma said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is also prepared to distribute relief goods to those affected by the storm in various provinces, cities and municipalities.

The Department of Health (DOH) meanwhile has also been ordered to ensure its hospitals are prepared to provide medical treatment to calamity victims, while the government continues to monitor the country’s dams and rivers “in order to prevent its expected overflow,” Coloma added.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has also “prepared its heavy equipment to clear roads and cleans canals and waterways,” said Coloma.

Airports in Kalibo, Roxas, Tacloban, Surigao, Caticlan, Legazpi, Romblon, and Iloilo, remain closed.

NDRRMC has confirmed at least 3 deaths as of Friday 3 pm.

Sufficient resources

The DSWD has been allotted P53.24 million for relief operations, but Coloma gave assurances the government would be willing to add resources and funding.

“The DSWD is also calling for civilian volunteers and civic organizations to help pack relief goods at the National Relief Operations Center at Malibay, Pasay City,” he said.

The Palace said government agencies are all working together to track the storm with “concerted and integrated action” — not just the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s weather forecasting unit, PAGASA.

He said the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) and PHIVOLCS are also involved “because PAGASA is not enough.”

“The reason why PHIVOLCS was there is that because of the strength of the Super Typhoon, they are watching out for possible lahar movement on Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon because there are heavy deposits of lahar on the slopes of Mt. Bulusan,” Coloma said.

“The other phenomenon they are looking out for are the storm surges, and MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau of DENR) is there because of the geohazard aspects.”

Coloma said the government is working towards using this type of advanced and coordinated preparation as a template for future calamities.

“We would want to improve as we go along, and we are not discouraged by the goal of zero casualty. Even if it may ambitious and unrealistic, we are not discouraged. That is what we want to achieve,” he said.

Restoring communications

The National Grid Corporation meanwhile is working to return electricity to those experiencing black outs in Catbalogan, Samar; Southern Leyte; parts of Western and Eastern Leyte; Calbayog City in Samar; Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte; and parts of Surigao del Norte.

“The National Grid Corporation will prioritize the restoration of power because it is an important element in connectivity,” Coloma said. “They are also coordinating with telecommunications company because even without electricity at lease mobile phones can be used.”

At least 5 provinces are suffering from limited connectivity. – Rappler.com

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