Work not yet done in helping Yolanda victims – Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said “the work is not done” yet for helping the victims of “Yolanda,” a decade after the super-typhoon wreaked havoc in Eastern Visayas and claimed at least 6,000 lives.
The President, marking the 10th anniversary of Yolanda’s devastation in the hardest-hit Tacloban City, noted that many families affected by it “continue to await our assistance.”
Yolanda, internationally known as Haiyan, was the world’s strongest typhoon on record to hit land with sustained winds of up to 315 kilometers per hour.
“So, we have engaged the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the National Housing Authority to accelerate the provision of housing units and land titles to our beneficiaries,” Mr. Marcos said during a speech at the Tacloban City Convention Center, better known as Astrodome, which had served as the biggest temporary shelter for Yolanda survivors.
“Let us continue to work hard so that we can provide them with the tools and the resources to rebuild their lives,” he added.
The official death toll of Yolanda stands at 6,300, with some 28,000 injured, more than a thousand missing, and over 3 million families affected.
Marcos said he believed many more were unaccounted for, “but for whatever reason their deaths have not been recorded.”
“But we must always keep a special place in our hearts for those who we lost, who are uncounted, who are unrecorded so that up to now we say 6,000 casualties—we do not know that for sure,” Marcos said.
“Ten years have gone by and yet the memory of this tragedy remains indelible in our hearts and in our thoughts,” he said, adding: “To the survivors who continue to move forward, we salute your indomitable spirit and character.”
As a result of bad weather, Marcos was not able to offer prayers and flowers at the Yolanda monument where the names of more than 2,200 Tacloban residents who perished during the super-typhoon are inscribed.
Marcos appeared to be holding back tears when a video showing the extent of Yolanda’s destruction was played during the program.
He acknowledged the participation of international organizations, foreign governments, and local aid groups that lent a helping hand in the aftermath of Yolanda.
“I know that everyone here played a part in the recovery but we cannot overstate the importance of the efforts of the different countries who came to the Philippines to assist — the NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), the international NGOs, the local NGOs that came and helped with the rebuilding and the rehabilitation and the recovery,” he said.
“You stayed with us and stayed with us for years until you could see that we had recovered. And for that, we owe you a debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay,” the President said.
Present during the event were representatives from different international and local humanitarian groups, as well as a number of dignitaries, including the ambassadors to the Philippines of China, Huang Xilian, and Thailand, Tull Traisorat.
Welcomed by cousins
The president arrived at the venue at 9:21 a.m. He was welcomed by his cousins, Speaker Martin Romualdez, who is a Leyte representative, and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.
The two officials expressed their gratitude to Marcos for coming to the event — his second visit since he assumed the presidency in 2022.
Also present were Senators Mark Villar and Francis Tolentino, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo Jr., Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, and Housing Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar.
In a separate speech during the launch in Tacloban City of Handa Pilipinas, a program to showcase the government’s disaster risk reduction and management initiatives, the President emphasized the need to learn from Yolanda.
“[We] are now better prepared and we are now better adapted to the vagaries of very severe weather events,” Marcos said.