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Disaster agency bars media

/ 05:13 AM November 13, 2013

NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario: “Very, very low” casualties. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has restricted the media from covering its daily interagency meetings on the “Yolanda” disaster response efforts.

The NDRRMC has closed its daily assessment meetings to the media since Nov. 10, a day after President Aquino attended a briefing at its office in the Camp Aguinaldo military headquarters in Quezon City.

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Like in the past, that NDRRMC meeting was opened to media coverage.

Aquino presided over the briefing among national and local officials in devastated Tacloban City.

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He was reported to have walked out of that meeting after questioning the report made by NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario.

According to news reports of that meeting, the President told Del Rosario to have a clearer basis for the NDRRMC reports after the retired Army general described the damage to the city jail as a “minor devastation.” The President told Del Rosario there was no such thing.

Since Sunday, reporters have been barred from the NDRRMC briefings on the aftermath of Supertyphoon Yolanda.

On Friday, within a few hours after Yolanda’s onslaught, Del Rosario confidently declared at a meeting in the NDRRMC office that he expected “very, very low” casualties from one of the worst typhoons the world has seen.

He even said he was not worried even if the office had not heard from his immediate superior, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and disaster officials in Tacloban City.

Updates from the NDRRMC, which coordinates all government disaster response efforts, have also been hard to come by. The official data varied greatly from reports from the ground.

The NDRRMC operations center gave the latest official death toll as of Monday 7 p.m., with at least 1,774 persons confirmed dead, at least 82 reported missing and nearly 2,500 injured.

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But the information posted on its website remained unchanged throughout Monday and was only updated on Tuesday morning.

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TAGS: Media, meetings, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Philippines, Yolanda
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