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Governor gets no reply to calls, texts made to President

LUCENA CITY—Telephone calls and text messages meant to seek help and made by the governor of Quezon province, hardest hit by Typhoon “Glenda,” to President Benigno Aquino went unanswered as the storm tore through the province, the governor said yesterday.

Gov. David Suarez, whose father is closely allied with now detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said he tried to call Mr. Aquino on his  mobile phone and sent text messages to the President since Tuesday but the calls went unanswered and no replies were sent to him.

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Suarez said he wanted to personally talk with the President to appeal for help for the province, which bore the brunt of Glenda.

Among the things  he wanted to discuss with Mr. Aquino, the governor said, was the possibility of using portions of the controversial coconut levy funds for programs to help Quezon get back on its feet.

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The government is keeping up to P72 billion of funds forcibly collected from coconut farmers, most of them from Quezon, during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The Supreme Court has ruled the funds to be public, but farmers are demanding the return of the money to them.

Suarez said he was able to contact Interior  Secretary Mar Roxas after failing to get in touch with Mr. Aquino. Roxas pledged to help,  Suarez said.

At least 25 people are dead and hundreds of millions of pesos worth of infrastructure, crops and property were destroyed in Quezon as Glenda swept across the province.

According to Suarez, the calamity funds of the province and its towns would not be sufficient to rebuild or repair structures destroyed or damaged by Glenda.

“We need the intervention of the national government,”  Suarez said.

When he was able to contact Roxas, Suarez said he asked the interior secretary to help put the national government in charge of relief efforts for the people of Quezon who have lost homes and livelihood.

In a message to the people of Quezon, Suarez said the destruction left by Glenda was an opportunity for the province’s residents to unite and “build a better province.”

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“We will plant more trees on our shores, on our forest, on every available space and protect our environment not only for our safety and security but also for the next generation,” Suarez said.

Mayor Nonato Puache of Unisan town, the hardest-hit town in the province, said: “During this trying times for our place and our people, we will welcome any assistance from the national government even if it’s from the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program).”

Suarez said the agriculture sector in the province suffered damage worth an estimated P350 million, not including damage on at least 250,000 hectares of coconut farms.

Glenda unleashed its wrath on Quezon province for at least 10 hours, sweeping through its 31 towns.

At least 388,000 people were hit by the storm. At least 12,515 houses were destroyed, according to Governor Suarez.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, David Suarez, disaster, Glenda, Governor
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