Leyte, Samar responders seek to speed up relief, retrieval activities for holiday break



TACLOBAN CITY—The heads of responders in Leyte and Samar provinces from various arms of the government are seeking to speed up all activities related to the retrieval and relief operations for Supertyphoon “Yolanda” victims so their personnel can celebrate Christmas and New Year with their families.

Senior Supt. Pablito Cordeta, regional director of the Bureau of Fire Protection Region 8, raised the issue during the weekly meeting of Task Force Yolanda at the Leyte Sports Development Complex in this city.

Cordeta said he was concerned about responders not having a Christmas break to be with their families because retrieval operations were being slowed down by ships that washed out from their docks to coastal villages in Tacloban City.

He said the firemen could not dig the debris underneath the boats and the surrounding area for bodies as long as the vessels were still there.

Cordeta asked those in the meeting to think about how the responders might be feeling now, knowing they might stay digging for the dead through Christmas and New Year. He stressed that the responders should have a break so they could be with their loved ones on these two occasions.

Lt. Senior Grade Paul Gonzales, head of the Philippine Coast Guard station based in Tacloban City, said they were still contacting the owners of the three boats stuck on land in Tacloban while the owners of the remaining boats had been working with inspectors from the insurance companies to which the boats were insured.

Gonzales added that the Coast Guard could not “touch” or move the boats without coordinating with the insurance companies, which would cover all the expenses of the operations.

Vicente Flores Tomazar, regional director of OCD-Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) who presided over the meeting, suggested that Task Force Yolanda conduct a separate meeting on hastening operations to remove the boats.

He added that the matter could be raised to national officials should the need arise.

Tomazar said the heads of committees dealing with various aspects of Task Force Yolanda should also take the initiative to make ways so their personnel could enjoy the Christmas break without affecting their own separate operations.

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