PDI joins Red Cross in relief, fund drivePhilippine Daily Inquirer
Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has teamed up with the Philippine Red Cross to extend relief to victims of this week’s deadly floods, as the government mobilized various agencies to rush aid to 2 million people affected by the disaster.
After more than a month’s worth of rain was dumped on Metro Manila in 48 hours, evacuation centers were overwhelmed with refugees and entire districts remained submerged although overflowing rivers had started to recede, officials said.
The Inquirer, in partnership with the Red Cross, said it was accepting donations for the victims.
Donors may send canned goods, water, medicines, clothes and blankets to the Inquirer offices at 1098 Chino Roces Avenue corner Mascardo and Yague streets.
The Inquirer said cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Help Fund’s Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Current Account No. 4951-0067-56 under the name of Philippine Daily Inquirer. Inquiries may be addressed to either Connie Kalagayan or Bianca Kasilag of the Inquirer corporate affairs office at tel. no. 897-8808.
Various Philippine organizations and embassies have also announced that they are offering donations to the victims.
Disaster relief officials said the top priority was to help the 1.95 million people affected by the floods, as people flocked to evacuation centers in search of a dry place to sleep, food, water, medicine and clothes.
A record 178 volunteers have responded to Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman’s call through the social media to help in relief distribution.
Soliman said she was pleased with the response from people, particularly the youth, who heeded her call through YouTube to help repack relief goods. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also has Twitter and Facebook accounts where calls for volunteers were posted and retweeted and shared.
Soliman said volunteers may go to the DSWD-National Resource Operations Center at Naia Chapel Road, Pasay City or call 8528081 and 8512681; the DSWD-NCR office along Legarda Street in Sampaloc, Manila, with telephone no. 7348640; and the DSWD-Region IV-A in Alabang, Muntinlupa with telephone no. 8074144.
“We are repacking a lot of relief items, we need more help and are asking for more volunteers,” Soliman said. “We have the food but we need to pack them, deliver and distribute them in this massive operation.”
Warm meals needed
Soliman said many evacuation centers had not been able to provide warm meals to the growing number of displaced.
“Most local government units have a community kitchen but the volume of evacuees is so big that they have been overwhelmed. We are also appealing for more medicines, blankets, mats and, more important, dry clothes,” she said.
The number of people in schools, gymnasiums and other buildings that had been turned into evacuation centers rose to 293,000 on Thursday, from 150,000 on Wednesday.
Even though the weather was gradually improving yesterday morning, the number of displaced persons was still rising. Rescuers on rubber boats floated down flooded streets to reach thousands of residents marooned in submerged houses along Marikina River.
A fresh downpour on Wednesday night fell on the saturated watersheds that flow into the network of rivers crisscrossing the metropolis of 12 to 15 million people.
Some residents of Marikina City returned to their homes on Wednesday night only for another deluge to hit a few hours later and cause another flood spike.
“Last night many came back, but when the alarm rang at 3 a.m. they had to evacuate again,” said Colonel Perfecto Peñaredondo, chief military aide at the civil defense office.
A 53-person task group from Albay province has arrived in Metro Manila bringing with them the equipment and experience culled from years of disaster response situations in the Bicol region.
“Team Albay,” as the group is called, came bearing two trucks, a firetruck, three rubber boats, water purifying equipment, utility vehicles and a busload of experienced rescuers. The trip was sponsored by Albay Governor Joey Salceda.
The team, mostly Bicolanos and led by Rommel Jason Galang, the deputy commander of the Naval Forces Southern Luzon, was immediately deployed to rescue those stranded in flooded homes in Quezon City.
MMDA rescue teams
Other local governments have sent rescue teams from Regions II, IV-A and IV-B. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has also deployed its own rescuers.
“Those in need of rescue may call the following hotline numbers: 136, 02-8820925, 09054853900, 09186511544 and 09423963890,” said MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino.
The Chinese Embassy and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) extended their sympathies to the Philippines, following earlier expressions of support and pledges of aid from the United States and Europe.
“I am saddened by the big losses that the torrential rains have brought about,” said Chinese embassy spokesperson Zhang Hua.
Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said Asean’s Humanitarian Assistance Center based in Jakarta was prepared to provide aid when requested.
“We convey our assurance that Asean stands ready to assist and provide emergency relief as soon as requested,” Surin said.
‘Bayanihan lives on’
Officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur organized their own fund drive.
“The Filipino spirit of bayanihan lives on among us Filipinos, even if we are far from home. Embassy officers and staff did not hesitate to dig into their pockets to help out those in need,” Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya said. Their collection, amounting to P15,400, will to be turned over to social welfare authorities.
Vice President Jejomar Binay called on the Department of Finance to release food and dry goods cargo seized by the customs agency to aid in relief efforts.
Binay wrote Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to ask the Bureau of Customs to donate confiscated rice and clothing to agencies leading the relief efforts. He said the customs bureau had a stockpile of illegally imported rice, such as 420,000 bags from India and 45,000 from Vietnam. Reports from Jaymee T. Gamil, Tarra Quismundo, Cynthia D. Balana, AFP and AP
Originally posted at 12:35 p.m. | August 09, 2012