Palace launches relief, rescue and rehab mission in Visayas after ‘Yolanda’
Tacloban City is reduced to vast wasteland after the onslaught of super typhoon “Yolanda.” Video by INQUIRER.net’s Ryan Leagogo
MANILA, Philippines — Saying “supertyphoon Yolanda” (international name Haiyan) could not bring Filipinos to their knees, Malacañang has set a massive relief, rescue and rehabilitation effort in the aftermath of one of the strongest typhoons in world history.
Accompanied by seven Cabinet officials, President Benigno Aquino III flew to Tacloban in Leyte and Roxas City in Capiz, on Sunday, to lead the distribution of relief goods and personally assess the extent of the damage caused by Yolanda in those areas.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the priority now would be to send “medical teams, rescue units and equipment, technical personnel and relief goods” to areas badly hit by the supertyphoon.
As of Sunday, the calamity had affected a total of 982,252 families in 39 provinces, said Valte, who was citing a report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
“We have no doubt that our citizens will get up and rise again — there is no doubt [about] that,” she said in a media briefing on Radyo ng Bayan.
“We have seen that in the past, that no matter how heavy the calamity, we have always managed to pick ourselves up and to get back to our normal lives,” she added, saying the typhoon “could not bring the Filipino to his knees.”
As the county was struggling to get back to its feet, the Palace welcomed the “positive news” about boxer Nonito Donaire Jr.’s knock-out victory over his Armenian opponent in Texas, and Miss Philippines Ariella Arida’s third-place finish in the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
“Any sort of positive news to us would be very welcome at this point, and we extend our congratulations to Ms. Arida and to the Filipino Flash for excelling in their particular field,” Valte said.
“We appreciate the efforts to bring a little bit of a smile to the faces of [our] countrymen who are going through so much in the aftermath of the typhoon.”
A C-130 cargo plane brought Director General Alan Purisima, Philippine National Police chief, and a team of Special Action Force members to Tacloban amid reports of looting. A video footage of ABS-CBN showed residents carting away items, including TV sets and refrigerators, from the Gaisano mall.
Valte said the presence of the SAF team would “help restore peace and order in some parts of Tacloban.”
“The SAF units have landed and no less than the director general of the PNP is also there because we are also concerned [about] the situation,” she said.
“We have also seen the reports of our colleagues in media and it’s important at this point in time to not only provide relief [goods] to our people, but it’s also important to keep the peace in these areas.”
Of the families affected in 343 towns, a total of 101,762 were now being assisted “in and out of evacuation centers,” said Valte.
In Regions VI and XI, she said a total of 3,480 houses were either partially damaged or completely destroyed.
With communication facilities yet to be fully restored in parts of Leyte, Valte said the Department of Social Welfare and Development had set up a free satellite Internet service in Tacloban so residents could communicate with their worried loved ones abroad.
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