TYPHOON DAMAGE: P200-M CALAMITY FUNDS RELEASED
Malacanang, Oct. 23, 1998 - President Joseph Estrada has released P200 million in calamity funds for several Southern Luzon provinces which had been devastated by Babs. The bulk would go to Naga City, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, and Quezon province reported by Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado to be among the areas severely by Babs.
Mr. Estrada also declared a state of calamity in the four areas identified by Mercado, who heads the National Disaster Coordinating Council.
He ordered all government disaster and relief agencies to integrate efforts to swiftly extend assistance to the victims and directed Trade Secretary Jose T. Pardo to monitor the prices of prime commodities as he warned unscrupulous traders against overpricing "in these hard times."
Mr. Estrada ordered Transportation Secretary Vicente Rivera to suspend domestic flight operations and stop vessels from leaving port "until the weather improves."
The President appealed to families living near rivers and low-lying areas to evacuate. "Ako ay nananawagan sa ating mga kababayan lalo na sa mga nakatira sa tabi ng ilog na kayo ay maghanda-handa na para maiwasan natin and sakuna at anumang mangyayari." (I am appealing to our countrymen specially those living near riverbanks to prepare to avoid any untoward incident).
Early yesterday the President directed Public Works Secretary Gregorio Vigilar to ensure the safety of the Pampanga megadike to shield residents from lahar attacks because Babs was expected to hit the province.
On orders of Malacañang, several rubber boats were sent by the Philippine Navy to Bato, Camarines Sur while army trucks evacuated families from Milaor town in Bicol.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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