Negros Oriental

Negros Oriental thanks Duterte for aid, residents beg for construction materials

Robbin Dagle
Negros Oriental thanks Duterte for aid,  residents beg for construction materials

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to evacuees of Bais City, Negros Oriental.

Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a 'Talk to the People' segment on December 27, segues from blaming a law for slow aid delivery to defending his war on drugs

Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, local chief executives and residents of the province thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for visiting and bringing much-needed aid to the Typhoon Odette-battered towns of Bais City and Manjuyod on Wednesday, December 29.

“Tinod anay gyud ang kalipay nga gibati sa mga katawhan namo sa imong pagbisita (Our people’s happiness is truly genuine for your visit),” Degamo wrote on his Facebook page

Bais City Mayor Mercy Teves Goñi also thanked the president on the city’s public information page.

Netizens on the pages of Degamo and Bais City thanked Duterte, whom many called “Tatay” (Father). But other comments showed the extent of help needed in northern Negros Oriental, with several residents begging for aid in rebuilding their homes. 

Analyn Narciso Gabas, a former student at Negros Oriental State University, appealed for recognition of other affected but seldom-mentioned places like La Libertad town. 

In the Visayan language, she said some residents have yet to receive aid and that Odette destroyed crops as well as houses.

As of December 27, the Bais City local government recorded 18 bodies retrieved and 12 individuals still missing in the aftermath of the typhoon.

Odette destroyed and damaged thousands of homes in the province’s north and central towns, according to the provincial disaster risk reduction office’s December 22 report. Some towns still have no electricity, phone signal, or water supply.

Law to blame?

Duterte inspected the extent of damage in Bais City and Manjuyod, and distributed relief goods to evacuation centers in both towns. He told residents that each family will receive PHP 5,000 in aid. 

In his remarks to evacuees in Bais City, Duterte apologized again for the delay in government’s relief operations, blaming it on a “bullshit” law regulating the release of calamity funds. 

Ang problema sa balaod, nag-ingon nga dili ko makadeklarar ug calamity situation hangtod wala’y report nga naa gikan sa may mga taga-gobyerno (The problem with the law is that I cannot declare a state of calamity until there is a report on damages from the pertinent government officials),” Duterte said. 

Duterte declared a state of calamity in six regions hit by Typhoon Odette on December 21, five days after Odette first made landfall in Siargao Island.

In his “Talk to the People” segment which aired on Monday, December 27, the president asked Congress to change a law requiring damage assessment reports before the declaration of a state of calamity, which would trigger the release of much-needed calamity funds for aid.

After cursing calamity fund rules, Duterte told evacuees in an aside that he is willing to be prosecuted and imprisoned in the Philippines, but not by the “whites,” referring to the International Criminal Court’s probe on his administration’s war on drugs. 

Speaking in Visayan, he said, “In all that I have done, I have nothing to gain. I have no money to gain. Nothing. I did all of this for your children so that they won’t die due to drugs.”

Earlier Wednesday, his daughter, vice presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio also turned over donations of rice, water purification systems, and cash to the province. With her was running mate Uniteam presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Governor Degamo received and provided a briefing for the tandem, done by provincial disaster officials.

Vice President and independent presidential aspirant Leni Robredo also previously visited Bais City and Manjuyod on December 21, where she met with typhoon victims and distributed aid. Partymate Vice Governor Edward Mark Macias accompanied her. –