TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Less than 30% of electric supply has been restored to Southern Leyte more than a month after Typhoon Odette barreled through the province.
Southern Leyte Governor Damian Mercado said during Malacanang’s Laging Handa briefing on Monday, January 24, that the province has to wait until March or April for the full restoration of power services.
The governor said that even in Maasin City, the provincial capital, only the poblacion or the center has power.
“Yung mga barangays hindi pa,” Mercado said. (The barangays still don’t have power.)
The governor thanked different electric cooperatives across the country for helping out with power rehabilitation.
A January 22 report by the Southern Leyte Electric Cooperative (SOLECO) said that of 105,787 households affected by the typhoon, only 28.68% or 30,336 households have power back.
Only 16.80% or 84 of the province’s 500 barangays have been partially energized, the report said.
Mercado said that the provincial government tightened its health protocols and border control in the second week of January as COVID-19 cases spiked after the typhoon ripped through the Visayas group of islands on December 16, 2021..
Southern Leyte had almost zero COVID-19 cases weeks before Typhoon Odette, the governor said.
He said the province, like many other devastated areas, relaxed health protocols at the height of relief efforts from the second half of December until after the New Year.
As of January 24, the province had 144 active COVID-19 cases with a hospital bed utilization rate off 47.71%, according to the Department of Health in Eastern Visayas.
Mercado said that the province resumed its vaccination drive a week after Typhoon Odette.
“Last year, meron na kaming executive order na [yung] ‘no vaccine card’ hindi pwede makapasok sa municipal hall, provincial and government offices. Pati sa mga ayuda-ayuda hindi sila makakatanggap,” he said, referring to Executive Order (EO) No. 58, Series of 2021.
(Last year, we already had an executive order banning those without vaccine cards from entering municipal and provincial government offices. They also won’t get aid.)
Mercado said, “mataas na ang aming vaccinated… at ongoing ang booster namin ngayon.” (Our vaccine coverage is high and we’re now giving booster doses.)
‘Hindi makaka avail ng mga ayuda kung walang vaccine kaya they are forced talaga magpa-vaccine,” the governor said. (They won’t get aid without getting vaccinated so they are really forced to get their shots.)
The governor recently issued EO No. 3, Series of 2022, limiting intrazonal and interzonal movement to fully vaccinated persons. Travelers to the province need to present their vaccination card, QR code, and valid ID.
The EO also mandates employees of government offices and private establishments to be vaccinated.
Earlier, the Department of Health Center for Health Development in Eastern Visayas said 12 towns in Southern Leyte have reported 50 acute diarrhea cases due to E. coli contamination. – Rappler.com
Brynch Bonachita is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.