With 23 bodies found, ‘Pablo’ dead now 1,043

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01:15 AM December 18th, 2012

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By: Marlon Ramos, December 18th, 2012 01:15 AM

The death toll from Typhoon “Pablo” has reached 1,043 as government workers with the recovery of 23 more cadavers in Compostela Valley, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Monday.

In its latest report, the NDRRMC said the typhoon destroyed more than P24.1 billion worth of properties, including close to P16.4 billion in agricultural crops and products.

The agency said searchers found and identified 22 bodies in Monkayo town and another cadaver in Compostela town, both in Compostela Valley province.

Of the total number of recovered bodies, it said 645 had been identified.

Benito Ramos, NDRRMC executive director, said rescue teams were still searching for 844 people, among them over 300 fishermen, who went missing when the typhoon hit Mindanao on Dec. 4, flattening villages and plantations.

Ramos said 6,608 families composed of 25,953 persons were still staying in 63 evacuation centers in southern Mindanao.

He said 701,224 families, or 6,203,826 persons, in 40 cities and 34 provinces were affected by the typhoon, which also damaged 167,295 houses.

International Labour Organization (ILO) Director General Guy Ryder, who arrived on Sunday for a two-day visit, extended his sympathies to the victims of Pablo and Tropical Storm “Sendong,” which also battered Mindanao a year ago.

Ryder said the ILO was donating 50,000 for the relief effort and was enlisting aid from its partners in the reconstruction of devastated regions.

The ILO estimated that 2.3 million Filipino workers have been directly affected by the two typhoon mostly women, youth aged 15-24, and vulnerable or unpaid family workers with limited income and social security.

The organization is involved in the multiagency Livelihood Cluster, which is engaged in cash-for-work projects and emergency employment in disaster zones.

“Decent jobs and sustainable livelihoods not only help people regain their self-esteem and their lives but also support the nation in rebuilding and moving ahead,” said Ryder said.

Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao visited the hard-hit New Bataan town in Compostela Valley on Sunday morning, consoling victims, distributing relief goods and pledging to help rebuild homes.

Pacquiao’s visit on the eve of his 34th birthday, however brief, lifted the spirits of the storm victims, according to Gov. Arturo Uy.

“His presence was more than the material things he gave to the victims. It was a morale-booster for a people who had endured so much suffering,” Uy said. “Many wanted to shake his hand.”

Also yesterday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) dared “epal” politicians to match their campaign spending with a donation to victims of Pablo.

In a message posted on his Twitter account, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez challenged politicians to promote themselves by helping the victims of the calamity instead of just focusing on promoting themselves through advertisements and tarpaulins.

“If they have political ads, the public will not benefit from it in any way. But at least, if they give food packs bearing their faces, the point there is some families will be fed,” he added.

Epal is a play on the words “mapapel,” Filipino slang for a scene-stealer or attention-grabber, and “kapal” or someone who is thick-skinned.

In Tacloban City, the Department of Health announced that its regional office in Eastern Visayas is sending today an 11-member medical team to help in relief operations. With reports from Cynthia D. Balana and Tina G. Santos; Frinston L. Lim, Inquirer Mindanao; and Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas

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