News Briefs: January 11, 2019
NDRRMC places ‘Usman’ death toll at 140 in 3 regions
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Thursday placed at 140 the death toll from floods and landslides caused by torrential rains brought by Tropical Depression “Usman” in Bicol and two other regions. Only eight of the 140 victims, however, have been identified. The NDRRMC estimated damage to agriculture and infrastructure in Bicol, Mimaropa, Calabarzon and Eastern Visayas at over P5.4 billion. According to the agency, 124 people died in Bicol, 13 in Eastern Visayas and three in Mimaropa, while 28 people remain missing and are the subject of search and retrieval operations. The eight fatalities were identified as Jose Maestro Sr., 58, who drowned in a flood in Baco, Oriental Mindoro; Leonel Diaz, 14; Gerald Despa, 14; Dominador Esquivel, 31; Magno Diwata, 51; Franklin Olavere, 66; Jaime Morico, 71; and Angeline Gerona, 91. —JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
Duterte needs to reappoint Honasan after CA bypass–Sotto
President Duterte would have to reappoint Sen. Gregorio Honasan as secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) after he was effectively bypassed by the Commission on Appointments. Congress adjourned on Dec. 12 before Honasan could be confirmed, which means he has to be appointed anew, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III. But Sotto also mentioned the possibility that Honasan might instead get a new appointment to another post. Sotto, however, declined to elaborate. “The President has to nominate him again because he was bypassed,” Sotto said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum on Thursday. “For all we know, he might be nominated to another post,” he added. Questions have been raised about the qualifications of Honasan, a former military officer and coup plotter, to head the DICT, but Sotto said his friend had a background in intelligence communications. —LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
Palace: Pilot to blame for chopper’s unannounced landing
Malacañang on Thursday blamed the pilot of the helicopter, and not its passenger, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, for making an unannounced landing at a government sports complex in Pasig City and disrupting an event on Wednesday. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after being told that officials of the Philippine Sports Institute (PSI) had said there was no clearance for the helicopter to land. “Because if [the pilot] landed there when there was an ongoing game, it will really disrupt it. He should have communicated with [the PSI] if the ground was clear,” Panelo said. Dino came under fire after the helicopter that was flying him to an event landed in the complex’s track oval and disrupted a youth game. But Panelo said Dino had told him he was picking up someone from the sports complex on their way to the event. —CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO
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