MAR ROXAS IN A BID TO PROVE GOVT IS IN CHARGE OF YOLANDA AFTERMATH

“The system here is clear. It’s just the need is more than can be handled. Even having gallons and gallons of water, with Yolanda’s strength, the need has become like filling up a gigantic swimming pool,”

ALSO: (NOV 7) AQUINO: PH READY TO FACE SUPERTYPHOON 'YOLANDA'

Aquino said in a televised speech that the country’s C130 aircrafts are fully mission capable to respond to those in need, adding that 32 airplanes and helicopters from the Air Force are on standby together with the Philippine Navy’s 20 ships which are positioned in Cebu, Bicol, Cavite and Zamboanga.

ALSO: (NOV. 7) MASS EVACUATION AHEAD OF SUPERTYPHOON 'YOLANDA'

Survivors of a deadly earthquake fled their tent shelters Thursday as mass evacuations got under way in the Philippines ahead of a super typhoon that was strengthening in the Pacific Ocean.

ALSO: CONRADO DE QUIROS: PREPARING (FOR THE 'UN-PREPARABLE)

“No one here or abroad could have prepared for a catastrophe of these proportions.  Indeed, how on earth, or on these shores, does one prepare for something like this?"


MAR ROXAS IN A BID TO PROVE GOVT IS IN CHARGE OF YOLANDA AFTERMATH

TACLOBAN CITY, NOVEMBER 15, 2013 (INQUIRER) In a bid to prove that the government is in charge of the situation in typhoon-ravaged areas in the Visayas, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II on Thursday assured the public that relief operations on the ground were organized.


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“Malinaw naman ang sistema dito. Kaya lamang malaki talaga ang pangangailangan. Kahit galon-galon ang inihahanda, dahil sa lakas nitong si Yolanda ang pangangailangan ay parang naging swimming pool,” he told Radyo Inquirer 990AM.
(“The system here is clear. It’s just the need is more than can be handled. Even having gallons and gallons of water, with Yolanda’s strength, the need has become like filling up a gigantic swimming pool,” he told Radyo Inquirer 990AM in Filipino.)

“What is important is that the relief efforts are organized and we are slowly able to send relief to our people,” Roxas said.

He gave a similar statement in an interview on Thursday morning with CNN, whose veteran reporter Anderson Cooper had called the situation in Tacloban City among the “very desperate” situations he had encountered in his years of covering disaster.

“Well, through your network I can assure our people and the whole world that the entire force of the government of President PNoy (Benigno Aquino III) is looking after our people here. If we have set aside gallons or pails of water, it turns out that the need is that of a swimming pool,” he told CNN’s Andrew Stevens.

Cooper trended on social media for his reports about the misery in Tacloban City, which sustained the greatest number of fatalities from the typhoon.

“As for who exactly is in charge of the Philippine side of this operation, that is not really clear,” Cooper said in his report.
This was followed by several news articles asking the same thing.

Stevens grilled Roxas, asking why the people are still asking for water and food, six days into the relief operations.

“Is the situation under control? The relief efforts are now working as effectively, as efficiently as they could be?” the reporter asked.

Roxas said, “Nothing is fast enough in a situation like this.”

“Everything that we have, if this was a gun, all bullets are being deployed… And slowly as we are clearing the streets we are able to reach the people in the interior. Imagine a situation from zero, no power, light, water, communication.

Nothing. You have to build the social infrastructure as well as the physical infrastructure,” he added.

But Stevens pointed out, “We all knew the storm was coming. We knew that it was going to be perhaps one of the most intense storms we’ve ever seen. The President said the day before the storm arrived that Manila stood by ready to support everyone. From my view, I would say that did not happen quickly enough.”

Read: Aquino: PH ready to face supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’

Roxas argued that the local government unit is the first responder in times of calamity.

“The national government is supposed to come in Day 2 and Day 3 to be able to support that. What happened is that the local government unit…was literally swept away,” he said.

‘Every day we pick up the bodies’

Asked about the city mayor’s unanswered request for 700 body bags, Roxas said, “It’s chaotic. There [are] no baggage tags. All the supplies just come in, in unmarked boxes. It’s very easy for 700 body bags to get lost.”

Nevertheless, he said the city and the military have just received another 500 body bags.

The CNN reporter also asked why they have been passing by the same corpses on the street every day. The same observation was made by Inquirer reporter Marlon Ramos over the radio.

“Let me just correct that. They are not the same bodies. Every day we pick up the bodies. I, myself, led a cadaver recovery team yesterday and the day before,” Roxas told Stevens, saying they were just in the same body bags.

Earlier, he explained over Radyo Inquirer 990AM that four trucks pick-up the bodies every day. However, he said the residents bring more bodies from other areas into the main road. Kristine Angeli Sabillo

EARLIER REPORT NOV 7, 2013

Aquino: PH ready to face supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net 8:17 pm | Thursday, November 7th, 2013


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President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday assured the public of the government’s readiness to face supertyphoon “Yolanda” which will directly hit Samar and Leyte at midnight.

Aquino said in a televised speech that the country’s C130 aircrafts are fully mission capable to respond to those in need, adding that 32 airplanes and helicopters from the Air Force are on standby together with the Philippine Navy’s 20 ships which are positioned in Cebu, Bicol, Cavite and Zamboanga.

He said that relief goods are also pre-positioned in many of the areas expected to be affected by the supertyphoon.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils, both national and local, have also been activated to mitigate the effects of the typhoon.

“Yolanda” is expected to bring winds and rain stronger than “Pablo,” the last supertyphoon to hit the Philippines with wind speeds up to 280 kilometers per hour.

With a 600-kilometer diameter, the storm will most likely hit the provinces of Samar, Leyte, Masbate, Cebu, Panay, Romblon, Mindoro, and Palawan before leaving the Philippine area of responsibility Saturday evening.

Aquino warned the public of strong winds, rain and overflowing of bodies of water, in addition to the possibility of lahar and mudflows near Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes.

“Storm surges in Ormoc, Ginayangan Ragay Gulf in Albay and Lamon Bay in Atimonan will bring grave danger. And waves in these areas may reach up to five to six meters high,” Aquino said.

The President advised Filipinos to monitor the websites of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and Project NOAH to determine which communities will be affected by the storm.

“Let this be a warning to local government units: Your constituents are facing grave danger. Let us do all we can while ‘Yolanda’ has yet to make landfall,” he said.

Aquino asked the public to remain calm and to cooperate.

“Coordinate with and follow authorities. Evacuate if your area is in danger. To those near the shore: do not head towards the open sea,” he said.

Aquino said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II are in Leyte to supervise preparations when the storm makes landfall in the province.

Nov. 7th: Mass evacuations ahead of Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ Agence France-Presse 2:09 pm | Thursday, November 7th, 2013


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Coast Guard Chief Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena checks newly-acquired rubber boats following blessing ceremony Wednesday in Manila. Isorena said the new single-hull aluminum boats and rubber boats will be deployed to central Philippines in preparation for the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda”. AP

MANILA, Philippines—Survivors of a deadly earthquake fled their tent shelters Thursday as mass evacuations got under way in the Philippines ahead of a super typhoon that was strengthening in the Pacific Ocean.

Authorities warned Typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), with wind gusts exceeding 330 kilometers an hour, could cause major damage across a vast area of the central and southern Philippines when it made landfall on Friday.

“This is a very dangerous typhoon, local officials know where the vulnerable areas are and have given instructions on evacuations,” state weather forecaster Glaiza Escullar told Agence France-Presse.

“There are not too many mountains on its path to deflect the force of impact, making it more dangerous.”

Yolanda had maximum sustained winds on Thursday morning of 278 kilometers per hour, and gusts of 333 kilometers per hour, according to the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The Philippines is battered by an average of 20 major storms or typhoons each year, many of them deadly, but Yolanda’s wind strength would make it the strongest for 2013.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) also warned the typhoon was continuing to intensify.

Escullar said the typhoon, which was advancing with a giant, 600-kilometer front, was expected to hit areas still recovering from a deadly 2011 storm and a 7.1-magnitude quake last month.

They include the central island of Bohol, the epicenter of the earthquake that killed more than 200 people, where a local official said at least 5,000 people were still living in tents while waiting for new homes.

“The provincial governor has ordered local disaster officials to ensure that pre-emptive evacuations are done, both for those living in tents as well as those in flood-prone areas,” the official, Bohol provincial administrator Alfonso Damalerio, told AFP.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council also said local governments had ordered evacuations and class suspensions in low-lying and landslide-prone areas on the southern island of Mindanao.

The region includes the ports of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, where flash floods induced by Tropical Storm Washi killed more than 1,000 people in December 2011.

However Escullar said Haiyan was likely to spare Mindanao’s southeast, where Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) left about 2,000 people dead or missing in December last year.

Yolanda is set to hit Samar Island, about 600 kilometers southeast of Manila, around 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Friday and cross over to the West Philippine Sea to the north of the island of Palawan late Saturday, Escullar said.

Some of the country’s most popular islands for tourists, including world-famous Boracay as well as Bohol, are in the typhoon’s path.

FROM THE INQUIRER

PREPARING Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:38 pm | Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 36 162 114

There’s the Rub
By Conrado de Quiros

The poor and weak still took the brunt of it. But so unexpected and uncontainable was the fury of “Yolanda” that it put even the rich and powerful through a day, or night, of absolute terror.

Tacloban Councilor Cristina Gonzalez and her husband, Mayor Alfred Romualdez, were chief among them.

As Cristina told CNN, as soon as the “angry wind” rose, she and her two daughters and maid fled their house which faced the ocean and sought refuge in their Toyota Innova.

Within minutes the van started filling up with water. Realizing they were going to drown if they stayed there, they decided to swim back to the house. Fortunately, all of them were good swimmers—life beside the sea had made them so—and they made it to the upper floor. By that time the lower floor had filled with water, too.

At the height of the storm, their roof flew off, and the push and pull of the water—this was what a storm surge meant!—carrying debris threatened to sweep their house to the sea. They held on to whatever they could for dear life as wind and water swirled around them. And they prayed and prayed.

Cristina and Alfred came out of it with only the clothes on their backs.

I can imagine how anyone who just went through this would greatly mind hearing, even if from the President himself, that the reason one went through this was that one did not prepare. Which indeed was what the President suggested last Monday: that Leyte’s, specifically Tacloban’s, officials had been remiss in their duties, which caused their province and city undue grief.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Alfred’s cousin, gave the President the benefit of the doubt, saying he probably had not yet been apprised of the situation when he said that—though that is surprising, given that the President himself had flown there and seen the extent of the devastation with his own eyes. He himself, said Martin, would only say everything humanly possible was done to prepare for the supertyphoon. The same thing would have happened to Metro Manila had it lain squarely in Yolanda’s path.

 “No one here or abroad could have prepared for a catastrophe of these proportions.”

Indeed, how on earth, or on these shores, does one prepare for something like this?

The Metropolitan Cathedral in Palo, Leyte, had its roof wrenched off and its ceiling gutted by the storm. The occupants of Tacloban’s hotels saw their windows shatter, scattering glass on their floors, and wind and rain howl in their rooms.

Where do you go to hide when these fortifications offer no sanctuary? And when, like most Filipinos, you are poor and helpless and have no means to rush off, children in tow, to them?

James Reynolds, a cameraman and veteran of 35 typhoons, testifies to the apocalyptic proportions of Nature’s ravaging.

“I’ve chased nothing like this before. This was just totally off the scale both in terms of the violence of the storm and then the human tragedy, the consequences of such a powerful natural event hitting a city of 200,000 people. Scientists are saying it’s a candidate for one of the strongest storms to ever hit land. From a personal point of view, this was the most calamitous event I’ve witnessed.”

The only way you can really prepare for something like this is to believe the unbelievable and expect the unexpected. Or understand that things aren’t going to get better, they are going to get worse. The worst is not behind us, it is in front of us. And prayer, or prayer alone, won’t see us through. I’m not knocking faith and prayer, I’m just plugging for that saying “Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.” There are practicalities to consider, too.

It helps to know the science. That science tells us that disasters are our new way of life, or death, and the unexpected is the new norm. “We already knew,” said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “that on a global scale, Earth is warmer today than it was over much of the past 2,000 years. Now we know that it is warmer than most of the past 11,300 years—the entire period of human civilization.” By rights, we should just be hitting the tail end of Earth’s cooling period, “but obviously we are not.” Global temperatures have risen by 0.8 Celsius, and the planet has broken records in heat in the past 10 years alone. Many experts blame Hurricane “Sandy” on climate change.

We can pretty much do the same for Yolanda. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, who was tapped by US President Barack Obama to study climate change, warns that rising sea levels (global warming is melting the polar ice caps, which has accounted for a fifth in the rise of sea levels since 1992) “could inundate coastal areas with the most vulnerable cities found in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Mozambique, the Philippines, Venezuela and Vietnam.” He said 97 percent of scientists agreed that it was human activity that was causing climate change. “As someone who has lived in the world of science for a long time, 97 percent is unheard-of consensus.”

The inundation is happening even as we speak. If the nightmare in Leyte doesn’t convince us that the new normal is a state of fragility, of precariousness, nothing will. I do hope the President raises the point when he speaks before the world, an opportunity that the current cataclysm has afforded him (we have become the cynosure of the world’s eyes for such a God-awful reason).

Being told we have a strong spirit, an indomitable will, a spectacular resilience, is fine, but we can do better with America doing its part in stopping the killing of the planet. It has been remiss on this strongly, indomitably, spectacularly.

With the most horrendous effects on the world’s coastline—and we are nothing if not one gigantic coastline.

Otherwise, we’ll just be preparing for the “unpreparable.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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