Aquino orders uprooting of people in harm’s way



President Benigno Aquino

President Benigno Aquino on Thursday told reporters he had ordered the relocation of communities vulnerable to flooding, landslides and storm surges as the death toll from Typhoon “Pablo” went past the 900 mark with another 900 missing and feared dead and nearly 80,000 in evacuation centers.

In an ambush interview with reporters, the President disclosed plans to uproot entire communities within “geohazard” maps produced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

“We will convince the communities that it will be in their interest to relocate to higher, safer grounds,” Mr. Aquino said, adding that he had directed the holding of dialogues with

residents of communities in geohazard zones.

“In certain instances, we really can’t wait for all the consultations to be over before we transfer them,” he said.

On Wednesday, the President met for five hours in Malacañang with officials in charge of search and relief operations for victims of Pablo (international name: “Bopha”), which slammed Mindanao on Dec. 4, flattening farmlands, igniting flash floods and landslides, and tearing down tens of thousands of houses.

Joining the closed-door meeting were Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, the commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command who was summoned to Manila from the disaster zone, along with Col. Edgardo de Leon, chief of Operations Search and Rescue, Navy Capt. Robert Empedrad, commander of Maritime Search and Rescue, and Col. Randy Tibayan, commander of Aerial Search and Rescue.

Mr. Aquino acknowledged that climate change and the more intense and frequent storms it has triggered in the country called for drastic measures.

“The communities will be moved to safer areas. What is important here is, first thing, we have an inventory (of the hazardous areas),” he said.

“Then, after the inventory, there will be prioritization—the areas most in danger will be prioritized, but eventually we will hold summits to discuss the transfer of communities,” he said.

Part of measures to reduce risks is to “ensure that evacuation centers are really safer,” the President said.

Many evacuation centers were damaged as well in Pablo’s devastating onslaught.

Death toll tops 900

On Thursday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Center (NDRRMC) said that the confirmed death toll from the 16th cyclone to hit the country this year had reached 902. Another 934 people were reported missing.

The agency said 19,212 families composed of 79,885 people were still in evacuation centers.

The number of deaths could easily exceed the 1,200 fatalities recorded in the aftermath of Tropical Storm “Sendong,” which plowed across Mindanao a year ago.

Residents uprooted by Sendong were told not to rebuild their homes in so-called geohazard areas, but they simply ignored the pleas for lack of viable alternatives.

Global appeal for $65M

The UN Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs has issued a global appeal for $65 million to help the Aquino administration provide assistance to 5.4 million people affected by Pablo.

The appeal said these people would require aid for the next six months. The immediate needs are food, water and temporary shelters, it said.

Amid climate change, the UN International Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction has long advocated the relocation of entire communities from geohazard areas—which are vulnerable to disasters—to save lives and mitigate losses.

However, local government officials—fearful of losing the support of their constituents—have been ignoring this warning.

Buried in boulders

“Are there other places like Barangay (village) Andap—those which are in positions that are too risky?” President Aquino asked, referring to the village in the town of New Bataan in Compostela Valley.

Andap was buried in a pile of boulders, according to the National Institute of Geological Sciences of the University of the Philippines. “The village was overwhelmed by a rapid downward moving mass of material that was fluid as wet cement and composed of boulders, gravel and sand. In its wake, it left a pile of rubble called a debris flow deposit,” it said. In its place is a new river bed with an estimated width of nearly a kilometer, the institute said.

The President also mentioned the coastal town of Boston, Davao Oriental, which was flattened by Pablo, as shown by an aerial picture taken on Dec. 7 by Assistant Press Secretary Rey Marfil, who was with the President when select Cabinet members flew over the area four days after the typhoon rampage.

He observed that Boston had hills right after the shoreline that serve as natural barriers against strong winds. He said communities could relocate behind these hills instead of rebuilding their houses at the edge of the sea.

Difficulty with choppers

The President said in the Compostela Valley alone the typhoon affected 83,000 families. “Not all of them will probably need assistance. There are those who really need our help. So, it’s a question of rehabilitating communities, and my instructions are to place them in safer places.”

He said helicopters were having difficulty penetrating mountain villages in the valley, especially those nestled between 8,000 and 9,000 feet.

“The ceiling of our helicopters is roughly about 10,000 feet. If the cloud ceiling is very close to the uppermost ceiling of helicopters, the flight crews are in danger. They can operate only when the weather permits—meaning, the cloud ceiling is high—and  we can reach isolated areas,” Mr. Aquino said.

He said this meant the helicopters could fly mercy missions only in the early morning hours, before noon.

The NDRRMC estimated damage to agriculture and properties at P14.3 billion. Various state agencies had already provided over P76.36 million in assistance to the typhoon victims, it said.

The typhoon damaged 148,887 houses and destroyed 19 bridges, the NDRRMC said. At least 35 areas in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental were still experiencing power interruptions and six other towns were having water supply problems.

“Communication was restored in Compostela Valley and only three areas in Davao Oriental are presently having interrupted communication,” the NDRRMC said.

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  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Nakakatakot ang order na ito dahil baka isama yung mga taga hacienda luisita at sabihin nasa harms way sila……hahahaha

    • bahaykubo1015

      Clever idea….

    • Joseph Aquino

      masyado kang matatakutin…

      • kalikasanipagtanggol

         pinatulan mo? may hahahaha na nga…..eto uli LOL!

  • Summerspice

    That would be nice.If you are going to relocate them to a safer place you must be able to provide livelihood for them too.

  • EdgarEdgar

    After mishandling Sendong, Noynoy’s mishandles Pablo on purpose again:

    Noynoy’s instruction # 01 — Do not compare Pablo to Sendong. Stop bringing up past failures.
    Noynoy’s instruction # 02 — Let’s keep the fatalities unofficial until they’re official.
    Noynoy’s instruction # 03 — Stop assigning blame. I’m in no mood for blame game now.
    Noynoy’s instruction # 04 — Stop pointing at my uncle & my KKK. What illegal logging?
    Noynoy’s instruction # 05 — Keep them victims hungry and scrambling for the goodies.
    Noynoy’s instruction # 06 — Hungry grassroots are easier to uproot & nip in the bud.

  • Paul US

    These numbers are from Wikipedia, this is the number of storms of typhoon or super typhoon strength from 1960 to present. Please tell me where you see this sudden increase of stronger storms? Every time a typhoon comes lately, PAGASA says it’s climate change. How does poor urban planning fit in with the flood deaths? How does poor forecasting fit in?

    These are the numbers of typhoons Pacific-wide whether or not they hit the Philippines. If global warming were causing more storms, it should show up here, no?

    1960 Typhoons: 19 Super Typhoons: 2
    1961 Typhoons: 20 Super Typhoons: 8
    1962 Typhoons: 23 Super Typhoons: 6
    1963 Typhoons: 19 Super Typhoons: 8
    1964 Typhoons: 26 Super Typhoons: 7
    1965 Typhoons: 21 Super Typhoons: 11
    1966 Typhoons: 20 Super Typhoons: 3
    1967 Typhoons: 20 Super Typhoons: 5
    1968 Typhoons: 20 Super Typhoons: 4
    1969 Typhoons: 13 Super Typhoons: 2
    1970 Typhoons: 12 Super Typhoons: 7
    1971 Typhoons: 24 Super Typhoons: 6
    1972 Typhoons: 22 Super Typhoons: 2
    1973 Typhoons: 12 Super Typhoons: 3
    1974 Typhoons: 16 Super Typhoons: 0
    1975 Typhoons: 14 Super Typhoons: 3
    1976 Typhoons: 14 Super Typhoons: 4
    1977 Typhoons: 11 Super Typhoons: 1
    1978 Typhoons: 15 Super Typhoons: 1
    1979 Typhoons: 13 Super Typhoons: 4
    1980 Typhoons: 15 Super Typhoons: 2
    1981 Typhoons: 13 Super Typhoons: 2
    1982 Typhoons: 19 Super Typhoons: 2
    1983 Typhoons: 10 Super Typhoons: 4
    1984 Typhoons: 16 Super Typhoons: 2
    1985 Typhoons: 17 Super Typhoons: 1
    1986 Typhoons: 19 Super Typhoons: 3
    1987 Typhoons: 17 Super Typhoons: 6
    1988 Typhoons: 10 Super Typhoons: 1
    1989 Typhoons: 20 Super Typhoons: 5
    1990 Typhoons: 18 Super Typhoons: 4
    1991 Typhoons: 17 Super Typhoons: 5
    1992 Typhoons: 16 Super Typhoons: 5
    1993 Typhoons: 15 Super Typhoons: 3
    1994 Typhoons: 19 Super Typhoons: 6
    1995 Typhoons: 8 Super Typhoons: 5
    1996 Typhoons: 15 Super Typhoons: 6
    1997 Typhoons: 24 Super Typhoons: 11
    1998 Typhoons: 15 Super Typhoons: 8
    1999 Typhoons: 5 Super Typhoons: 1
    2000 Typhoons: 13 Super Typhoons: 4
    2001 Typhoons: 16 Super Typhoons: 3
    2002 Typhoons: 15 Super Typhoons: 8
    2003 Typhoons: 14 Super Typhoons: 5
    2004 Typhoons: 19 Super Typhoons: 7
    2005 Typhoons: 13 Super Typhoons: 3
    2006 Typhoons: 15 Super Typhoons: 7
    2007 Typhoons: 14 Super Typhoons: 5
    2008 Typhoons: 11 Super Typhoons: 2
    2009 Typhoons: 13 Super Typhoons: 5
    2010 Typhoons: 7 Super Typhoons: 1
    2011 Typhoons: 8 Super Typhoons: 4
    2012 Typhoons: 14 Super Typhoons: 4 (year not finished)

    • Paul US

      (Every named storm is not a typhoon, even though that term is usually used there)

    • tadasolo

      when you run out of solutions and response you blame something including climate change. We blame illegal loggers, fish pens, mining etc. except ourselves and the way we develop land. Technology is the ultimate answer to our problems and building codes should be strengthened. It is the national government responsibility to ensure codes are enforced by the local governments and storm water prevention and drainage are carefully considered in developing neighborhoods and communities,.

  • farmerpo

    Start at you own backyard. Cleanup the esteros. Ondoy and relatives are coming, for sure.  As sure as the sun rises tomorrow nothing will come out of this. For sure. It is just another item in the Wish List, added to cart.  Leave cart before check out.

    • frudo

      buong Pinas ang bakuran nya hindi lang metro manila! 

  • ApoLapullapu

    No human designs can beat the will of God.  If the President means business he must lead the the people in bowing with complete submission to the will of God.

    • ardong

      Rghtly said. In addition, it is the political will of the president to stop the denudation of our forest resources which is the primary reason for such catastrophic vendetta of our Mother Earth. God’s design is so perfect and it is the vicious thirst for material possession of men – illegal logging, uncontrolled mining that is the problem. Sadly, we want to learn the hard way.

    • $23228448

      yes but God also gave man greater intelligence…but building in a low area is not using that intelligence…they must be relocated to an area that will not be as vulnerable to storms as previous location…

      • ApoLapullapu

        We must not rely on our own intellect and do everything we like.  It is clear that Pablo was not due to the denudation of our forests because it started in the ocean.  In fact Pablo did his own logging operations by knocking down forest tress, fruit trees and coconuts.  He had a message that we must understand through prayers..  

      • $23228448

        yes and his message was build on higher ground…

      • vendetta07

         the message is to stop illegal logging and mining.

    • regd

      God will that none shall perish. Hence, He gave each one a brain! But if you decided to terminate yourself, what can God do? FREE WILL. But eventually none will perish (spiritually) because How could a God who knows all things cannot find a solution to fulfill and complete His will?

  • carlcid

    The President, and the entire country, must be made aware that there are many more fatalities from typhoon Pablo which have not been reported, in some cases, deliberately blacked out. In particular, in the mining area of Diwalwal in Compostela Valley, where over 3,000 illegal miners are said to have been killed by floods and landslides. Comval Governor Arthur Uy is blacking out the news because he has large mining interests in the area. The informal settlers in the area are cooperating as well, for fear that the government might order the area closed until safeguards can be instituted. The fever for gold and money is much stronger than the urge to save lives and prevent future calamities.

  • Albert Einstien

    pnoy is correct in uprooting  people by force in harms is the constitutional duty of govt…..1987 constitution state principles & policies..Section 4. The prime duty of the Government is to serve and protect the people…..state must exercise loco parentis & parens patriae……even lgu’s may exercise such powers…..every life of filipino citizen is very important…that is why the push for rh bill is AGAINST& runs counter with  these principles……………..NO TO RH BILL!

    • Christian Alis

      On the contrary, that’s why we need RH Bill unless you consider mothers as not Filipino citizens.

  • PHtaxpayer

    Huh?  This policy could spell more problems if it is not implemented properly!
    Who is to determine who will be uprooted?  You cannot displace people from their land!  Even if they are “poor people”, like most indigenous people are classified, some of them have lived there for generations, living off the land and dying when there are typhoons and flash floods.  You cannot remove them from their ancestral homes and livelihood.  That is inhuman!

    I am not against protecting people and giving them government service, but you cannot have a national policy that will be implemented haphazardly and without legal basis or consideration to our environment or social, political and economic realities.  For sure, many businessmen, politicians and warlords with close ties to mining and logging will use this as an excuse to clear their areas so big mining and illegal loggers can come in and rape the forest. 


    Study the problem, then debate the solutions that all stakeholders can participate.  Those of us far way in the cities do not really understand the real situation in Mindanao because we have never been there or seen the devastation that logging and mining has wrecked on our beautiful and wealthy country. 

  • vendetta07

    let those people keep the land, but don’t let them live there.  Instead, let them grow crops on that land to give them livelihood.  

  • Andy

    Before talking about uprooting  those people,he better help them with their present miserable condition because that is the most important, and the very first thing to do at this point.The administration is not doing enough in helping those victims, same as usual, just endless excuses from Pnoy. The victims are sick and hungry,exposed to the elements, the children and the elderly are dying, not much help from the government.People of Mindanao are still being treated like second class citizens by the Manila bureaucrats. 

  • charles

    I think Governur Uy And Malanyaon are in cahoots with all the mining and logging companies operating in their areas of responsibility…investigate them..


    Paulit ulit, paulit ulit. Pero meron ba nakikinig? Wala kasi di naman sinasabi kung sino mag uproot! Bingi nasa baba

  • Mux

    Uprooting? Relocation? To where? How can PNoy order something without thinking it through? 

  • nparvus1202

    Pinag-aralan ni ABNoy yan… Kung alin ang mas matipid, uprooting o flood control projects. Ayaw gumastos kaya uprooting na lang. Ilagay lang sa truck ng militar ang gamit tapos dalhin sa bundok, solve.

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