Aquino to visit Leyte, lead operations

Natashya Gutierrez

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A week since the storm, the national government continues to work on getting aid to survivors and retrieving dead bodies

CARE FOR SURVIVORS. President Benigno Aquino III says the government is prioritizing care for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda. Photo by Malacanang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III is set to return to Leyte on Saturday, November 16, to oversee relief operations.

According to the Palace, Aquino will now be completely in charge of post-typhoon efforts, including relief distribution and clearing operations. This, after international media and organizations questioned the slow and disorganized relief efforts of the government.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte did not disclose how long Aquino will be in the region.

Aquino’s visit to affected areas will be his second since Super Typhoon Yolanda, international name Haiyan, ravaged central Philippines. He helped in relief goods distribution on Sunday, November 10, before returning to Manila the same day.

The President was also seen in Zamboanga City during a bloody standoff with members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in September, and stayed in Bohol after it was devastated by an earthquake last month.

As of Friday, Haiyan’s death toll stood at 3,621.

A week since the storm, the national government continues to work on getting aid to survivors and retrieving dead bodies, although thousands have chosen to leave their homes to find access to basic needs.

The Palace said it is looking for another possible hub for relief goods. It currently has 3 — one in Tacloban, another in Ormoc, Leyte, and one in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

“The airstrip in Borongan, [Eastern] Samar can soon be a fourth hub, so we are looking at others. As we have mentioned previously, we’re looking at other areas that can be made into hubs to expand the access points from Manila and from Cebu. I also think there is one in Iloilo,” Valte said.

She said the government needs to support 275,000 affected families or 1.357 million individuals in Leyte and Eastern Samar, which translates to the need to produce 1.1 million food packs every week.

The government has since increased its repacking centers in Manila to meet the demand of 140,000 food packs per day. On Friday, Aquino encouraged Filipinos to continue volunteering in order to hasten repacking. –

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.