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God was away when ‘Yolanda’ flattened Tacloban—Duterte

/ 12:56 PM November 12, 2013

Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—“I think God was somewhere else when the typhoon hit,” Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday night after a daylong visit to Tacloban where he saw the streets littered with dead people, and survivors foraging for food, three days after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international codename: Haiyan) barreled through the Visayas.

“God must be [have been] somewhere else or he forgot that there’s a planet called Earth,” Duterte told reporters at the arrival area of the Davao International Airport.

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After seeing the extent of the devastation, Duterte said, he thought that the more appropriate thing to do was declare a state of emergency rather than a state of calamity, which is what President Benigno Aquino did Monday night, as local governments in severely affected communities were not functioning at all.

“This is just a suggestion; I don’t mean to dictate upon [anyone],” he said. “But the state of calamity is not enough, it has to be a state of emergency because there is no local government functioning anymore. The police, the army, the social workers, all of them have to attend to their dead, no city government is functioning.”

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“As a Filipino, I have to say something,” he added.

Duterte, who turned over P8 million worth of relief goods and equipment to the areas severely hit by the typhoon, said he even saw a policeman in uniform among the dead lying on a roadside.

Duterte appeared shaken by the sight of survivors alongside the dead in Tacloban.

“Death on the roads, no electricity, no food and water, and people walking on the streets like zombies, looking for food,” he said.

He had ordered a team of 911 relief workers and rescuers to bring medicine to Tacloban by land on Saturday afternoon. The team arrived in Tacloban Monday morning, after they hacked and cut their way through fallen trees along the way, and cleared some roads of debris.

Duterte said he was right in sending a medical team to Tacloban but said they would be useful only for three days because of the enormity of the need. He said the next team to be sent should be composed of people who know how to handle cadavers.

When Duterte left for Tacloban Monday morning, some people in Davao sent him a list of names of people to look up. But Duterte said he failed to find them or even to ask about their whereabouts because there was no local government to ask from.

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“There was no semblance of a barangay (community),” he said. “They were overwhelmed by their own dead, the barangays were not functioning anymore.  All you see are people walking aimlessly on the streets, like zombies, looking for food.”

He advised those who have relatives in Tacloban to go to the devastated city, extract what is left of the family and bring them out of there because there was nothing to eat in Tacloban right now.

“Take them out of there, bring them outside, you can’t get anything there, not even a piece of candy,” he said.

He said he did not know whether to cry or shout in anger when he saw the devastation in Tacloban.

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TAGS: disaster, local government, Rodrigo Duterte, State of Calamity, supertyphoon, Tacloban City, Weather, Yolanda
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