CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—The death toll in Central Luzon from the onslaught of Typhoon “Labuyo” this week is low compared to the devastation brought by heavy rains dumped by the southwest monsoon (“habagat”) last year, reports from the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) showed.
Labuyo left two people dead in Aurora province, one of the hardest hit areas, while heavy rains spawned by the southwest monsoon in the region in August last year claimed 46 lives.
RDRRMC reports identified the fatalities as Romeo Gonzales, 74, of Barangay Bianoan in Casiguran town and Ronaldo Borja, 27, of Sitio Amutan in Barangay Matawe in Dingalan town.
Several areas in Aurora and Zambales provinces have been placed under a state of calamity by local government units (LGUs), the Palace reported on Friday.
The areas placed under a state of calamity include Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag in Aurora; and Candelaria, Santa Cruz and Masinloc in Zambales, said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte at a Palace briefing.
No Palace declaration
Valte said there was no need for Malacañang to issue a separate declaration placing these areas under a state of calamity since the LGUs could do so on their own in order to authorize the release of their respective calamity funds for post-typhoon rehabilitation.
“As you know, we are still in the post-typhoon operations, and as of 5 a.m. this (Friday) morning, a total of 76 fishermen have been rescued in the affected areas, mainly Pangasinan, Catanduanes and Camarines Norte,” said Valte.
The casualty figure, which was pegged at eight, has not gone up, she said.
Seven people were injured and four are still missing.
A total of 84,571 families have been affected in 87 municipalities and six cities in 16 provinces, while the number of those stranded has gone down to 25 passengers, Valte said.
The number of damaged houses remains the same—a total of 20,136—for Regions 1, 2, 3, 5 and the Cordillera Administrative Region.
A total of P12,191,826.99 worth of relief goods have been provided to affected families and stranded persons, she said.
Classes have remained suspended in the Aurora towns of Dingalan, Casiguran and Dilasag since Monday to allow the repair and cleaning of schools, the RDRRMC said.
Residents reported that the northern Aurora towns of Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag were still without electricity.
Gov. Gerardo Noveras could not be reached through his mobile phone for updates.
The RDRRMC said the floods and landslides affected 43,584 families in 202 villages in Aurora, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Zambales provinces. Floodwaters from Nueva Ecija have descended downstream of the Pampanga River, inundating 27 villages in Pampanga’s fourth district.
Only three evacuation centers operated in Aurora and Zambales on Thursday, serving 84 families.
But the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local governments have been providing food packs to 4,692 families that have preferred to stay in their areas. The number of houses destroyed by the typhoon climbed to 1,090, mostly in Aurora. At least 6,867 houses were damaged, RDRRMC reports said.
In Bataan province, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) officials confirmed that the abandoned cargo vessel found off Malolos City in Bulacan early this week came from Mariveles town, where it was anchored for repairs three years ago.
Romulo Abella, acting port services manager of PPA in Limay town, said the vessel, Yuan Heng, belongs to Aviva Shipping Co. and was on dry dock in Barangay Lucanin in Mariveles.
It was carried by strong waves triggered by the typhoon to the waters off the island village of Pamarawan in Malolos on Tuesday.
Malolos Mayor Christian Natividad yesterday asked the ship owner to pull out the vessel as it has been disrupting the activities of residents, most of them fishermen.
He said the city government has been assessing the impact of the vessel grounding on the livelihood of residents and on damage to the fish cages in Pamarawan.
In the Cordillera, reports from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the region said the typhoon killed a Benguet resident and damaged P29.8 million worth of crops in the region.
OCD reports said Ifugao province posted the highest crop damage at P25.6 million while Benguet, a major vegetable supplier of Metro Manila, recorded P2.1 million in crop damage.
Sections of the Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya and Baguio-Bontoc Roads have been opened after clearing operations. The Gurel-Bokod-Kabayan-Buguias and Acop-Kapangan-Kibungan Roads, however, are still closed to traffic.
State of calamity
In Quirino, the provincial board placed the province under a state of calamity on Aug. 13 after the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council (PDRRMC) reported that the province lost P200 million worth of rice, corn, bananas and vegetables.
Agaton Pagdilao, PDRRMC action officer, said Maddela was the hardest hit town, with flooding reported in at least four villages.
In Pangasinan, 25 fishermen who were reported missing when the typhoon crossed the province on Monday have either returned home or been rescued, PDRRMC reports said.
The PDRRMC said the typhoon destroyed P26.4 million worth of palay, vegetables and fish.
As this developed, some church dioceses in the areas affected by Labuyo yesterday appealed to the faithful to send help to the thousands of families that lost their homes and livelihood to the recent calamity.
The Diocese of Infanta in Aurora said more aid was needed to support relief and recovery efforts for the thousands of typhoon victims in the province.
“We are challenged by God to stand up and be counted as one for these people [in need of] your charity and love,” said Fr. Israel Gabriel, social action director of the Infanta diocese, over Church-run Radio Veritas.
With Reports from Tonette Orejas, Carmela Reyes-Estrope and Greg Refraccion, Inquirer Central Luzon; Villamor Visaya Jr., Kimberlie Quitasol and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Michael Lim Ubac, Jocelyn R. Uy and DJ Yap