Help comes to typhoon victims in N. Luzon
TUGUEGARAO CITY—Private groups have offered to help survivors of Supertyphoon “Lawin” (international name: Haima) in Cagayan Valley region, even without a formal call for assistance from the national government, the Inquirer has learned.
Donations from various private organizations have been trickling into typhoon-devastated provinces two weeks after Lawin ravaged the region, to help residents rebuild houses and to augment food packs released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
In a press statement, the United States government said it was continuing to support relief efforts for the Lawin-affected areas, through its humanitarian arm, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) office in the country.
This was through a three-year, $2-million partnership between the US and Philippine governments and the United Nations World Food Program, said Emma Nagy, deputy press attaché of the US Embassy in Manila.
“We continue to focus on our broad relationship with the Philippines, and work together in the many areas of mutual interest to improve the livelihoods of the Filipino people and uphold our shared democratic values,” Nagy said in an e-mail interview.
She, however, declined to answer if the Philippine government had made any official request for the donation. “We refer you to the Philippine government to clarify assistance requests,” she said.
An inventory of goods received by Cagayan province, one of the severely devastated areas, showed donations from private foreign groups like Wong Chu King Foundation and AmeriCares, and the US government.
This week, truckloads of goods for distribution arrived at the provincial coliseum in Caritan Norte here, where volunteers have been repacking rice and boxes of canned goods, noodles and bottled water. Others have donated roof sheets, towels, blankets and cots.
Donors included Ateneo de Manila University, Yuchengco Foundation and Junior Chamber International Philippines, according to the provincial information office.
Folk singer Noel Cabangon, along with other artists, is also top-billing “Saranay,” a fund-raising concert for typhoon victims from the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela and Ifugao.
The Department of Agriculture has distributed 1,400 sacks of rice, while Davao City and Quirino province have also sent donations.
The arrival of donated goods has prompted the provincial disaster response officials to call for volunteers to help in repacking and distribution to various Cagayan towns.
Provincial officials also called for donations as Cagayan Valley struggled to cope with the damage, said to be worth P6 billion in agriculture and P2.8 billion in public infrastructure. At least 93,000 houses were destroyed.
Chaos in relief distribution
Reports of chaos in the distribution of goods, however, continued, as residents claimed they have yet to receive assistance from relief agencies.
Residents aired complaints that ranged from alleged nondistribution or unequal sharing of goods to relief boxes getting withdrawn from their intended beneficiaries.
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said the agency’s field officers were verifying complaints that survivors have not received their relief supplies, mainly in Cagayan and Isabela. She said the distribution of relief goods is handled by local governments. “We will keep a regular update on the progress of this,” she said on a Facebook post.
Electricity is slowly being restored in this city and other Cagayan towns as the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines reported it had completed the repair of its lines damaged by Lawin.
Power will be fully restored in the province after local electric cooperatives are done with repairs by next month, the Inquirer has learned.
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