Aquino heartened by outpouring of support for flood victimsBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino is heartened by the outpouring of support from local governments and the private sector, including oil companies, for the thousands of families displaced by floods in Metro Manila and in Central and Southern Luzon.
Mr. Aquino on Friday thanked Isabela Vice Gov. Rodolfo Albano III for donating not less than 1,000 cavans of rice and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for dispatching 35 rescue personnel to help in areas enundated by days of relentless monsoon rain.
“If we have tragedies like this, there are many of our countrymen who go out of their way to help even without us asking for it,’’ Mr. Aquino told evacuees in Sta. Lucia High School in Capas town, Tarlac.
His remarks were broadcast live by government radio.
The President also expressed gratitude to San Miguel Corp. and the Yokohama tire company for their donations as well as Shell and Petron for withholding planned increases in the prices of petroleum products in an act of commiseration with the flood victims.
“The good news is that while the crude prices in the world market are rising, companies like Shell and Petron volunteered, I repeat, volunteered, to delay any scheduled increase in the prices of their products to commiserate with our countrymen. In effect, they’d lose some profit just to make us feel we’re not alone,’’ he said. “We thank all of them.’’
Mr. Aquino said he expected more international help to pour in.
Mr. Aquino, who helicoptered to Tarlac with some Cabinet members, told the 105 families of evacuees in Barangay Sta. Lucia that the government has adequate funds to address emergencies like this, and was prepared to attend to all their needs.
Quoting Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Mr. Aquino said the Bangot Bridge would be fortified instead of being replaced, drawing cheers.
“We’re looking for permanent solutions. The (proposed) Balog-Balog Dam is designed for irrigation and flood control, too. Hopefully, within two weeks the plan will be presented to us so that the process can be started, and eventually it will be built, and floods can be mitigated,’’ he said.
The construction of the P15-billion mega dam in Tarlac was scheduled to start in July. It will be 113.5 meters’ high from the riverbed to the crest and will have a water storage capacity of 625 million cubic meters, according to irrigation officials.
Expected to be operational by 2016, the dam is projected to boost palay yield by 116.7 thousand metric tons per year and tilapia production by 94,000 metric tons per year.
Mr. Aquino and his party first stopped at the Apulid evacuation center Paniqui, Tarlac, where he spoke for a few minutes.
The party arrived in the evacuation center in Paniqui minutes late after heavy rain forced their helicopters to land at the Luisita exit of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway at around 9 a.m. From there, the President and his party motored to the evacuation center.
Capas and Paniqui were among eight Tarlac towns submerged in floodwaters.
Some 5,000 families were displaced by the floods in the President’s home province.