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Aquino in Leyte to oversee relief efforts

PRESIDENT Aquino is staying indefinitely in this storm-devastated city to find ways to speed up the delivery of relief goods in Eastern Visayas.

“We’ll stay here until we see that we’re no longer adding (to the efforts of relief officials),” said the President, stressing the need to speed up the pace of relief operations, so that authorities could begin to concentrate on rebuilding the areas hit hard by supertyphoon Yolanda.

He met with Mayor Alfred Romualdez last night to synchronize the efforts of both the national government and local government in hastening relief and recovery efforts.

Part of the agenda would be to seek out the mayor’s help in implementing the cash-for-work scheme to rid the city of the massive litter and debris left by Yolanda.

Romualdez was conspicuously absent when the President toured the city, which has been littered with all manner of imaginable debris nine days after Yolanda struck.

The mayor has had a falling out with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who is the one in-charge of the relief and recovery operations as co-chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

In the last May polls, Romualdez ran under the United Nationalist Coalition of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Mr. Aquino arrived in Tacloban City yesterday afternoon after a brief visit to Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where “Yolanda” first made landfall on Nov. 8 before it ripped through Leyte and the rest of central Philippines.

It was his first time to visit Guiuan, where he inspected the town plaza, public market and the central public school of this Pacific coastal town that felt the first onslaught of Yolanda’s fury.

From there, the President and his officials returned to Tacloban, which he last visited three days after Yolanda’s ferocious winds and storm surges flattened entire villages, toppled communication lines and electric posts and killed over 3,700 people.

The President inspected vital public installations and hospitals, and was briefed by Task Force Yolanda on the progress of relief operations for survivors as it entered its 9th day.

In Tacloban, he checked the distribution chain for relief goods from seaport to warehouse. The President first motored to the seaport of Tacloban to inspect the unloading of relief goods from a cargo ship.

When he saw that the process was taking much time, he looked for the port administrator himself and asked whether the government could borrow or rent several delivery trucks that were parked nearby.

When the port administrator could not give any answer, he asked for the caretaker of the trucks, who suddenly showed up. He then talked privately with the latter.

The Inquirer overheard the President telling the latter that the trucks had been damaged at the height of the typhoon’s onslaught, and that the caretaker still needed permission from his boss before making any decision.

“We have a mechanic to fix that,” the President said, and asked his aide to leave his contact numbers with the caretaker.

Followed by a convoy of media—that had no idea where he was heading next—the President proceeded to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center near the old Leyte Capitol Building.

He stayed briefly and later proceeded to the warehouse of the National Food Authority (NFA), which has been turned into a storage and repacking center for relief goods coming from government and foreign donors. /INQUIRER

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Tags: Alfred Romualdez , Benigno Aquino III , Leyte , News , relief efforts , Supertyphoon Yolanda

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