Aquino missed tons of evacuees’ tales in Central Luzon relief sortiesBy Carmela Reyes-Estrope
Inquirer Central Luzon
CITY OF MALOLOS, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III’s inspection of the floodplains of Central Luzon on Friday brought a ray of hope into the bleak lives of victims of the weeklong monsoon rains and floods who took refuge in evacuation centers in Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan provinces.
But the President missed the flood victims’ concerns and anecdotes that he could have heard had he met them face to face.
Carlos Macasling, 50, of Barangay Sumapang Matanda here, said his family and other evacuees were suddenly transported by military trucks from the provincial gymnasium to the Malolos sports complex in Barangay Sta. Isabel at dawn on Friday.
Make room for wedding
The reason: The local government was paid a bundle to reserve the gym exclusively for a weekend wedding.
Macasling said his family was ushered into a room with wet bedding, owing to leaks from the roof.
Jean Cristobal, caretaker of 23 families who were also relocated, said they were told that the wedding was booked even before floods struck most Bulacan towns.
Provincial officials were incensed when told about the move, but had not offered any official statement.
To many evacuees at the sports complex, the transfer had been disappointing because the President did not even reach out to them.
A child is born
Mr. Aquino motored to the city proper, instead of the sports complex in the village as scheduled, because bad weather prevented a fleet of helicopters from flying him to several destinations on Friday.
The President and Cabinet officials managed to visit Malolos Central School, where 400 families took refuge.
Maricel Artacha, 26, said she would have told the President that she had given birth at home in the middle of the calamity. Her husband, Joel, 27, acted as midwife when she gave birth to their fifth child.
Floods left them isolated from neighbors and the nearest hospital and no medical teams could reach them, Artacha said.
There were also some good news in the aftermath of the calamity.
In Benguet on Friday, volunteers finally rescued Felipe Plimaco, 34, a pocket miner from La Union, a week after he was trapped in an eroding Bokod tunnel on Aug. 3.
Plimaco celebrated his birthday on Aug. 7 inside the shaft, parts of which collapsed due to strong rains. Benguet miners worked to dig him out, said Lomino Kaniteng, president of Benguet small-scale mining federation.
“We were never informed about this tunnel, which must be old because it is deep. The distance separating the rescuers and Plimaco was only 2 meters but the tunnel walls were fragile and crumbled every time the rescuers erected poles to stabilize the hole,” Kaniteng said.
Plimaco was fed air and food through a pipe that was inserted into the tunnel. As soon as he emerged, Plimaco was given eggs, rice and coffee. With a report from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon