A soldier mans a checkpoint in Tacloban City on the seventh day after Super Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ destroyed large parts of central Visayas. The government ordered a curfew throughout the city after looting occurred the day after the storm struck. AFP PHOTO

MANILA, NOVEMBER 16, 2013 (MANILA TIMES) Aid may be flowing at an increasing rate into Tacloban City, but only a trickle of food and relief goods are reaching other areas in the Visayas that were ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda.

The monster typhoon cut a wide, straight path through no less than eight regions in central Philippines last week, leaving death and destruction the magnitude of which was unprecedented.

Tacloban is one of the hardest hit, and has become the center of attention for relief agencies and the media.

Aside from Eastern Visayas, the damage was also extensive in the Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Caraga.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Friday that the death toll has reached 3,621.

The biggest number of deaths was in Eastern Visayas—3,422.

Calabarzon had 2 deaths, Mimaropa, 5; Bicol, 5; Western Visayas: 113;

Central Visayas, 72; Zamboanga Peninsula, 1 and Caraga, 1.

In Palawan, particularly, the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) reported that relief goods in some municipalities quickly ran out and have not been replenished.

Neri Amparo, Senior Civil Defense Officer in Region 4-B said they need food, water and medicines.

Amparo mentioned Coron and Busuanga as the places that urgently need help.

Despite the shortage of relief goods, she said the national government was doing its best to “lessen the burden of the typhoon victims.”

“We cannot quantify as of this moment the need of the people because everyday there is an increase in the demand,” Amparo said.

Government estimates put the damage in Palawan at about 85.90 percent.

Based on the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) report, 13 people were killed, 35,736 individuals affected; 5,346 houses were damaged and 3,550 houses were destroyed.

The Palawan Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said 20,308 families in 14 municipalities were affected by the storm.

On Friday, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte admitted that even in Leyte, government relief operations reached only 30 of the province’s 40 municipalities.

Valte said the 10 towns have not received relief goods because the trucks that were to ferry the goods did not arrive.
”We were expecting 10 more trucks to arrive in Tacloban yesterday. However, it was not able to arrive, so the carrying capacity for that particular hub for today remains the same, which is at eight trucks. Sixty sacks of rice per truck is going to cover 23, again, 23 municipalities of Leyte today,” she said.

Valte said that the authorities are studying other access points to reach the stricken areas.

She said relief “hubs” have been set up in Tacloban warehouse, Ormoc, and Guiuan hub in Eastern Samar.

Citing a report from Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Valte said 23 towns have been reached by resources in the Tacloban hub.

”All 23 towns were reached with a total of 692 sacks of rice with water and canned goods. This is equivalent to 11,072 food packs,” she said.

The Ormoc hub was able to distribute 4,372 family packs to seven towns, Valte said.

”We already had eight trucks yesterday at the Tacloban command center to be going around those areas with the needed relief to the towns,” she said.

Food packs and sacks of rice have also been distributed to other areas in Eastern Samar, as well as in Palawan, she said.

Yolanda’ dividing Filipinos; no thanks to negative peopleNovember 15, 2013 7:42 pmby MOJE RAMOS-AQUINO, FPM LEARNING & INNOVATION

PHOTO-Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm

Rick Bella is exasperated: “I am now intensely dismayed and quite heartbroken at the continuing realization that an overwhelmingly painful human tragedy suffered in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda divides rather than unites us as a people.”

“To those who unrelentingly pursue and foment this path of divisiveness, may you get what you rightfully deserve . . . here and in the afterlife!,” he added.

Some of our broadcast media reporters and anchor persons, local and foreign, are stoking raw emotions and fueling this self-flagellation and government-bashing frenzy. I just watched a local news channel where the reporter was trying to report what he was seeing and experiencing in Leyte.

I wonder if he ever left Tacloban for a while. But the anchorwoman kept on badgering him, and so he became judgmental and emotional and his reporting got tainted. She kept asking him leading questions and eventually made her own conclusions, blaming and finding fault.

Another reporter, accounting from Tanauan, was doing it in a calm and collected manner and was telling viewers about what only he was seeing, no judgment, no emotions, just plain facts. Appreciated.

Facebook netizens are divided, as well. There are those who post nothing but criticisms and negatives—they are here in Manila and they quote the media. A lot of misinformation and ugly rumors are going around. One who lives and works comfortably here in Manila even said, “There is more than enough aids already. We should stop asking.” Huh?

Jose Roland Moya said what many are feeling and thinking: If you have not done anything for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda other than to post and repost on Facebook criticisms, rumors, lies, calumnies and accusations against the ongoing relief operations, you have absolutely no business and you have no right to criticize the efforts which obviously will never be enough of those, especially the national government, who have their hands full in extending direct assistance and support of whatever nature to the hungry, dispossessed, displaced, unsheltered and injured. Just shut up because you are not helping at all.

Your noise just adds to the confusion, congestion, gridlock, despair and pain. Let’s put a stop to these stupid and senselesss acts of self-flagellation.

Let me share this post with you. “My name is Geraldine Uy Wong and I am a private citizen who had just arrived from Tacloban after I successfully pulled out my relatives. Now safely back in Manila, I read and hear comments criticizing the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and I feel that this is quite unfair. We are all guilty of judging the government, but I was there in Tacloban to see for myself how the people of DSWD work.

"Beside her in the command post, I witnessed how Secretary Dinky Soliman marshalled her task force to address the enormous job ahead that even my mind cannot grasp. Tirelessly, she champions everyone to keep going even as the morale is evidently low, as she herself goes through her never-ending list of to-do’s, 24 hours being not enough for the enormous task that still lies ahead.

"Yet she is gracious, her presence is reassuring, and she has the steady look and smile that tells you one thing: we will not stop working because many people need our help. I ask everyone to please give the government a chance. If you receive a message, an email, or a post criticizing this government agency or even other departments, please think twice before you share or like. Instead, I ask you to go to the nearest DSWD relief center to deliver your donations.

"While you are there, you might as well volunteer to do even just an hour of volunteer repacking work. The government is really doing its best. It will be even more efficient if the private sector pools its resources to support the entire national operation—that of helping our fellow countrymen in this worst calamity ever imaginable.

"I hope you can share this message, even by word of mouth, so that people are not discouraged to help. I am afraid that others will tend to believe the false things that they hear and will be disheartened to help, because they think it is useless.”

Bituin Aquino posted this: “We apologize for your inconvenience —we have not been able to give you quick and regular updates on our government and NGO’s [nongovernment organization] relief operations at the moment, because all hands (well, at least our hands) are on deck and doing the best we can with what happened.

“Also, please do not compare what happened here to what happened in Japan, like what #AndersonCooper did. Please, you have time—so check Google Earth or any online map first. The tsunami hit only one part of Japan’s coastline. Typhoon Yolanda, the first Category 5 typhoon that hit land, ravaged across multiple small islands with large populations. During the tsunami in Japan, there were other parts of Japan that were not affected, and thus were able to run to the aid of their fellow Japanese much sooner.

“What happened in Central Visayas is sooo different—entire islands were first battered by the winds, then swallowed by the sea. We don’t have the luxury of being like the USA, where states/provinces are divided only by statelines—the provinces in Visayas are separated by large bodies of water.

“As for the military presence in the devastated areas—for starters, the army personnel stationed in those areas were wiped out, too, during the typhoon. Many of them have lost or are still looking for their families and loved ones. Some of them who are okay, have to be assigned to look out for foreigners like Mr. Cooper and other foreign doctors/volunteers who came to help.”

And there are, indeed, many such negative and divisive comments going around in the social media fueled by negative and emotional reportage from media, local and foreign. And most of these media people have not gone beyond Tacloban airport, or are safely situated in their Manila media center.

Let’s get in a positive note here: “The Philippine authorities have done a tremendous job in extremely difficult circumstances,” said Martin Nesirky, the United Nations spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

And from Kala Pulido-Constantino: “We also need to recognize that government capacity is stretched because of back to back disasters [notably Typhoon Santi and other early typhoons and floodings, Zamboanga siege and Bohol earthquake]; local government officials in devastated areas have been affected too; and many roads remain impassable hindering delivery of relief from airports and seaports.”

Finally, a rejuvenated Rick Bella posts: “I just woke up rejuvenated and inspired, leading me to a precious epiphany. I have changed my mind. I will not be hushed by trolls, ranters and haters. I will speak my mind, whether you like it or not. This is a government that I support and believe in, the only one we have right now and we either sink or swim, float or drown together. I choose to swim, float and survive—hopefully help others do the same in the process. Now if you have lost your faith, then that is your problem and not mine, you infidel! Get out of my way, there is work to be done!”

And my own take: Shhhhhh Tumulong ka na lang. (Hush, just help!)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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