In this file photo, President Benigno S. Aquino III speaks to reporters upon arrival at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council office at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City for the executive briefing on the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu late October. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, Aquino was interviewed by CNN where he said the death toll from the Yolanda typhoon should be aroind 2,000 to 2,500 and not 10,000 as earlier reported. (KJ Rosales) President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday downgraded earlier estimates of possibly 10,000 deaths due to Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) to 2,000 or 2,500.

MANILA, NOVEMBER 13, 2013 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Alma Buelva November 13, 2013 (updated) - Aquino, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, said the 10,000 figure is “too much” and probably made by provincial officials who were “too close” to all the devastation to make an objective estimate.

In the interview, Aquino said government agencies still need to reach 29 municipalities more to make an account of their casualties.

“So far 2,000 to 2,500 is the number we are working on as far as deaths are concerned,” Aquino told Amanpour.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRMMC) as of 10:00 p.m of Nov. 12, 2013 placed the number of confirmed deaths to 1,798 individuals, 2,582 injured and 82 missing. At least 1.3 million families or 6.9 million people were affected by the killer howler that was considered the strongest typhoon to ever make a landfall in history.

Aquino also admitted during the interview that much of the provincial government was paralyzed as members attend to their own families’ safety. He told CNN that the national government had to step in the aftermath of ‘Yolanda’ to continue the delivery of vital government services, especially during a calamity.

MacArthur memorial also damaged by ‘Yolanda’ by Alma Buelva November 13, 2013 MacArthur, Tacloban, Yolanda, Manila Bulletin

One of the statues of the U.S. General Douglas MacArthur shrine lies face down in the water after falling at the height of super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ that hit the province of Leyte last Nov. 8, 2013. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

One of the statues of the U.S. General Douglas MacArthur shrine in Tacloban City has fallen to the enemy that was ‘Yolanda’, the super typhoon that nearly wiped out the entire city and other areas in Central Visayas.

Lying face down in the water after falling at the height of the killer howler, the statue was the only “casualty” among all the other statues representing the brave men led by MacArthur.

The Leyte Landing Memorial is a 4.5-hectare memorial to the landing of MacArthur and his men at Red Beach in Candahug, a barangay of the municipality of Palo in Leyte, five kilometers away from Tacloban. More popularly known as the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park, it consists of about 10-feet tall bronze statues of the general and other men, including then Philippine President Sergio Osmeña, Jr., General Carlos P. Romulo, General Sutherland and other men standing in a man-made pool.

The statues stand at the exact spot where MacArthur’s group of about 225,000 troops from 600 ships landed and waded ashore on October 20, 1944. It is constructed to remember MacArthur’s fulfillment of his promise to return to the Philippines after it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II in the Philippines. The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines ended soon after MacArthur landed at Red Beach.

Before the typhoon hit, a museum nearby displayed historic photographs and other mementos including a copy of the general’s speech upon landing and a bronze cast of his footprints. There are no reports yet on what happened to the museum and its contents.

Annually, the Leyte Landing is commemorated at this place from where the Leyte Gulf and Samar Island can also be seen from afar.

PNoy’s State of Calamity a few days late November 12, 2013 10:17 pmby ERWIN TULFO DEAD SHOT

Erwin Tulfo

President Aquino went on live television on Monday night to declare a national state of calamity to “fast track funding and restore peace and order in affected areas” brought about by super Typhoon Yolanda.

The President’s announcement, however, raised the eyebrows of local officials and residents of Leyte because it came days after they prodded him to do just that over the weekend.

The declaration of a state of calamity ensures the immediate release of funds from the national government to various units for the relief and rebuilding of affected areas and to immediately restore law and order.

Local officials claim that Aquino’s announcement came too late as business establishments, especially stores, were not only almost reduced to rubbles but were also looted as residents who have not eaten or drank clean water for 48 hours or so ransacked stores for food, dry clothing, and personal hygiene items.

The situation in Leyte clearly shows the ineptness of this administration, particularly the President, in helping victims of calamity as this is not the first time that this happened. Remember the incident in Bulacan during Habagat of 2013?

The President with his relief goods arrived a day late.

* * *
Authorities never learned

Friday morning saw the deadliest typhoon that ever hit the country this year, reducing several provinces almost to wastelands and claiming over a thousand lives (so far.) Thousands more went missing.

Though super Typhoon Yolanda left the country Saturday morning, the problem has just begun as tens of thousands of victims cry for food and water, and business establishments, particularly grocery and department stores, became the target of looters.

Observers believe these problems could have been avoided if only the government, especially those assigned to keep the peace and order, carefully reviewed its lapses or failures in the past. One good example and very similar to the situation now in Leyte and Samar was the devastation in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley brought about by Typhoon Pablo in December last year.

Hundreds died and thousands were missing as hungry survivors ransacked stores to get food, water, and daily essentials for themselves and their respective families. The problem after the onslaught of Pablo last year was that local governments in devastated areas did not exist anymore as officials and the law enforcers themselves became victims too.
Surprisingly, the scenes we are seeing now in Leyte is a déjà vu of sorts, yet it seems that the government did not learn anything from that catastrophe in that southern part of Mindanao.

It did not anticipate the breakdown in security, thereby resulting in massive looting in Tacloban City. The officers, who were expected to maintain order, were not present as they attended to the needs of their families or have to look for their missing loved ones or bury their dead.

What authorities should have done was deploy policemen or military personnel assigned in non-affected areas, such as from nearby provinces or even from Metro Manila, to secure Tacloban City and other parts of Leyte.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas admitted that the Tacloban PNP, numbering over 200, can only account 20 of its personnel since the rest of their strength did not report for work immediately after Yolanda wreaked havoc in the province.

The police and the military leadership should learn from this grievous mistake.

Typhoon Noynoy By Jojo Robles | Nov. 12, 2013 at 12:00am 65

Jojo Robles

There are those who say that, in troubled times like these, everyone should pull together and no one should criticize anybody. To these people, I say: tell that to President Noynoy Aquino, so that he may stop blaming other people and just work to get the job at hand done.

Malacañang Palace has attempted to spin the now-famous walkout by Aquino during a meeting with local businessmen in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City. The President stepped out to take a bathroom break, Palace spokesmen said, and did not really walk out of the gathering.

Earlier, Aquino was quoted as saying that the local officials of Tacloban and other hard-hit areas were unprepared for the arrival of super-typhoon Yolanda, implying that these officials may have caused the damage to worsen. (The Palace has also proffered a belated exegesis of Aquino’s latest “Boy Sisi” statement, saying that it was not intended to lay blame on local officials in Tacloban and its environs – who just happen to be stalwart members of the political opposition.)

So spare me the calls to rally around Aquino as he tries to, apparently singlehandedly, try to fix the mess that Yolanda left behind. If Aquino were really trying to help, he wouldn’t be looking for someone to blame or walking out on people who are merely asking him to take drastic measures against looters.

There is a lot of work to be done to ease the suffering of Filipinos from Tacloban to Coron who bore the brunt of the typhoon’s wrath. But Aquino has proven that he is obviously not up to the task.

Make no mistake: while Malacañang tries to clean up after Typhoon Noynoy, making it appear that he did not display his usual and expected lack of empathy and a distressing tendency to frame everything in terms of partisan politics, there is simply no denying what took place in Tacloban.

Aquino really did attempt to blame local officials in the Leyte city. “Yung Tacloban, hesitant lang ako, para bang hindi ganun ka-prepared compared to other areas,” he said.

As for Aquino’s un-presidential walkout, the “bathroom break” theory simply does not wash. Reporters at the meeting noted that Aquino seemed to get more and more angry upon being asked to act on the looting and even sarcastically pointed out to one of his questioners that he, apparently, survived Yolanda.

Then, when Aquino disagreed with a disaster office executive’s estimate of the damage, he left without telling anyone that he was going to the bathroom or even dying for a smoke. He just up and left for the local police station, returning to the meeting later after apparently realizing that his action made him look really bad.

So, yes, by all means, let’s do all that we can to help the people of Tacloban and other areas get back on their feet again. But let’s not forget that Aquino did nothing to inspire us to pull together in this latest crisis – and that he only displayed how petty and partisan he is in our time of greatest need.

We need a leader who will encourage us and inspire us in parlous times. Aquino, sadly, has once again proven that he is not that person.

* * *

As if we haven’t had enough bad news, the Malampaya natural gas plant off Palawan has shut down over the weekend for month-long maintenance work, which means that the combined 1,700 megawatts produced by the facility for three power plants that supply the Luzon grid will also not be available temporarily.

The Manila Electric Co., distributor of power for the mega-franchise area that includes Metro Manila, said power rates in their service area will also increase, because Meralco will have to buy power at more expensive rates from other generating facilities.

The Malampaya shutdown will cause Meralco rates to shoot up by P1.24 per kilowatt hour, estimated by the distributor to come up to an additional P247 for consumers who use up 200 kwh a month.

Meralco said the Department of Energy, which ordered the maintenance shutdown, promised to get Malampaya gas back on the grid in a month’s time, when work is estimated to be completed.

Sources in the power industry say DoE had repeatedly postponed maintenance work on the Malampaya facility until it could no longer postpone it anymore. Now, just when business users are consuming more power as production is increased ahead of the Christmas holidays, DoE finally decided it would have to proceed with the long-delayed maintenance work.

But why can’t the energy department conduct maintenance work on Malampaya and government’s other power generating sources in a more rational and regular manner, so that users big and small are not penalized with higher rates and the inconvenience of having less electricity for everyone on the grid?

The Philippines is already famous for having some of the highest power rates in the world, something that has always made foreign investors stay away and which jacks up the prices of everything already being made here for everyone.

Why can’t we even have enough reserve power and supply that will tide us over through events like regular plant maintenance and bring down the cost of electricity for all?

Please help Tacloban By Bong Austero | Nov. 12, 2013 at 12:00am 5

Bong Austero

I am from Leyte. I grew up in a town a few kilometers south but spent a considerable part of my growing up years in Tacloban City. Family members, relatives, and friends were among those directly affected by the worst calamity to hit this country last Friday.

There are no words to describe what we all went through the last three days particularly for those of us who have ties to Leyte and Samar.

First, the long wait for information—for any bit of news about the real conditions in Leyte in the aftermath of the super typhoon. And then the unspeakable horror as the gruesome footages and images of the howling winds and the rushing waters and their cataclysmic effects on nature and man started to flood our television sets. But what we went through must be nothing compared to the kind of agony experienced by the victims themselves as they struggled to survive and then scrambled to find missing kith and kin and grieved for everything precious that they had lost.

And as if all these were not already enough, we are now faced with the staggering realization that despite the fact that we are probably the country that gets visited by natural calamities more frequently than any other, we have remained utterly and absolutely unprepared to deal with the aftermath of major catastrophes.

There’s not much we can do about acts of God and the raging forces of nature, but disaster preparedness and crisis management are subject areas that we have supposedly already mastered. We thought we already knew how to get rescue, relief, and rehabilitation programs immediately off the ground.

We certainly don’t lack the theoretical expertise in this country —there are far too many scientists and management experts in government and in the academe who automatically foam in the mouth when asked for their opinion on the matter.

But then, this is not the time for recrimination. This is a time for action. So please, let us just get our act together and get the much-needed help to people in Leyte and Samar.

This is not the time for lectures and power play; nor is this the time for moral judgments and ego trips. This is not the time for walkouts and for losing tempers. This is the time to show understanding and compassion. This is the time to stretch patience, mercy, restraint and tolerance to the full extent possible. This is the time for all of us to be human.

This appeal has already been made in various heartbreaking ways by others. But it’s an appeal that needs to be made over and over again: Please, please, bring the much needed help to Tacloban and nearby areas now!

I have personally talked to people in Tacloban City and nearby areas and I know for a fact that relief efforts are not reaching those who need it the most. As a result, the situation in some areas is approaching Walking Dead proportions- people have taken matters into their own hands.

The situation is on the brink of anarchy. There is no justification that will make sense to people who have not eaten for days, or have lost so much, or have lost faith and hope. So let’s just spare people the lectures and the justifications. Let’s just get the relief goods to where they are needed the most. Quickly. Efficiently.

My personal appeal is that we flood Tacloban City and the other affected areas with relief goods. We need to show that there is a lot of help forthcoming and that there is more than enough for everyone. It doesn’t matter if some people get more than others, at least initially.

The important thing is that we are able to reduce what is gnawing at the hearts and destroying the spirit of those who are down on their knees right now – the fear that they will die of starvation and that help is not forthcoming.

I am also appealing to everyone out there: Please help in whatever way you can. Donate to the Red Cross, to the media networks, to church-based organizations. Please initiate fund raising efforts among your relatives, friends, and officemates.

Drop donations in kind such as canned goods, blankets, mosquito repellants, masks, etc., at various drop centers.

Perhaps you can deduct a certain percentage from the money you have saved for your Christmas presents—your friends would probably appreciate it more. Take a little amount from the money you have saved for your vacation next year.

At the bank where I work, everyone has decided to forfeit their Christmas Party allowances and donated the amount to relief efforts for Leyte and Samar. There are many things we can do to help at this hour of great need.

There’s also a very important appeal from the people in the southern towns of Leyte – the devastation did not just affect Tacloban City, it actually covered a wide area including neighboring towns. There has been very little attention directed at them. The situation in these towns is also dire and ready to erupt any time soon.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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