ALL TYPHOON-AFFECTED AIRPORTS IN FULL OPERATION EXCEPT TACLOBAN

Airports that are now in functional operations and complete with air-ground communications are Guiuan in Samar, Bantayan and Roxas in Cebu, Kalibo and Caticlan in Aklan, Busunaga in Palawan, San Jose in Mindoro, Ormoc in Leyte, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Borongan, Biliran and Calbayog in Samar, Dumaguete in Negros Oriental and Catbalogan in Western Samar.

ALSO: PDAF as unconstitutional brings wrath like Yolanda
 

“It’s like Yolanda has returned with that decision…a big blow to our efforts to raise fund for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the areas affected by Yolanda. While all sectors of society, both locally and internationally, are scrambling to look for resources to support the typhoon victims, the Supreme Court appears to be insensitive to our situation,” Eastern Samar Rep Evardone said in a text message.

ALSO: What to do the morning after

While disaster response and disaster mitigation is going on, it is prudent to go back to disaster preparedness. After all, we must recognize the dreadful possibility that Yolanda will not be the last of the “strongest” typhoons to hit the globe. Its strength and power could well be the normal standard for typhoons of the future, God forbid!


ALL TYPHOON-AFFECTED AIRPORTS IN FULL OPERATION EXCEPT TACLOBAN


"The Tacloban Airport Before Typhoon Yolanda" Copyright Photo: Ipe Eguia

MANILA, NOVEMBER 20, 2013 (MANILA TIMES) All typhoon affected airports are now in full operation except Tacloban airport but the ban on other fixed wing aircraft to and from Tacloban was still in effect.

Airports that are now in functional operations and complete with air-ground communications are Guiuan in Samar, Bantayan and Roxas in Cebu, Kalibo and Caticlan in Aklan, Busunaga in Palawan, San Jose in Mindoro, Ormoc in Leyte, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Borongan, Biliran and Calbayog in Samar, Dumaguete in Negros Oriental and Catbalogan in Western Samar.


"The Tacloban Airport After Typhoon Yolanda" Copyright Photo: Rupert Ambil/Rappler

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Deputy Director General John Andrews said that the affected airports became fully operational due to the instant initiatives of respective CAAP managers which cleared the affected airports’ runways that served as the only means of transport to these areas.

Andrews said that at the start, Tacloban’s airport operations had limitations on the type of aircraft allowed to land due to the hazardous external conditions in the area except military planes.

Tacloban airport’s condition has improved on the third day and was authorized to accommodate turbo-propeller planes but limited to commercial operations between Mactan-Tacloban-Mactan.

Andrews added that Tacloban airport has started accommodating Airbus A320 commercial flights on November 14. The frequency of the flights, however, is limited due to the ongoing relief operations by the USS George Washington.

The airport also holds the restriction on general aviation aircraft due to the constrained availability of space.   BENJIE L. VERGARA

PDAF as unconstitutional brings wrath like Yolanda November 19, 2013 10:32 pm

The Supreme Court declaration that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is unconstitutional is much like Super Typhoon Yolanda—inevitable just as much it is damaging to people and properties.

This was how Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar—one of the provinces severely hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda—as well as the rest of his colleagues took the unanimous High Court decision of deeming PDAF or the congressional discretionary fund illegal via a 14-0 vote.

“It’s like Yolanda has returned with that decision…a big blow to our efforts to raise fund for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the areas affected by Yolanda. While all sectors of society, both locally and internationally, are scrambling to look for resources to support the typhoon victims, the Supreme Court appears to be insensitive to our situation,” Evardone said in a text message.

Evardone was referring to the earlier move of the House of adopting a Resolution which transfers the remaining P12 billion PDAF under the P2.006 trillion budget to the Calamity Fund in light of the wrath of Super Typhoon Yolanda that brought provinces in Visayas to Ground Zero, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and the Zamboanga siege led by the Misuari faction of Moro National Liberation Front.

“The decision of the SC on PDAF is so unfortunate especially so at this time that we are facing a major crisis brought about by the typhoon. The SC should have been more considerate. At the very least, it should have deferred its ruling. Congress should appeal this decision,” Evardone added.

Reps. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas and Romero Quimbo of Marikina, for their part, saw public opinion as the game changer, considering that plunder and graft-related charges have been filed vs. former and incumbent government officials before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P10 billion PDAF scam—a scheme that allegedly funneled state coffers to bogus organizations owned by Janet Napoles.

“I have expected that [ruling] because of public protests and the pork barrel scam. These have actually affected the mindset of the Supreme Court justices. They saw only the bad side PDAF. Our
scholars and our sick constituents who benefits from our PDAF are now feeling the effects of PDAF’s abolition,” Barzaga said in a separate talk.

Quimbo could not agree more, immediately urging the Department of Budget and Management to fund the lawmakers’ scholars who were severely affected by Supreme Court decision.

“I alone have 6,850 scholars who I hope the DBM, through CHED or DepEd, can provide assistance to. They are unfortunately the innocent victims of the Napoles scam,” Quimbo argued, referring to the Commission on Higher Education and Department of Education.

“It is high time that Congress crafts a specific line item budgeting process that will ensure the needs of the indigent constituents in the different districts that have been the main beneficiaries of the PDAF, at least in my district. To deprive them of this assistance is another catastrophe that can be prevented,” Quimbo added.

But for Rep. Mel Senen of Western Samar, the Supreme Court is of no bearing because Congress already removed the PDAF item under the proposed P2.268 trillion budget.

“It’s moot since we removed PDAF in the 2014 budget and realigned PDAF for the response and recovery program for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, Bohol earthquake and the Zamboanga incident,” Sarmiento said.

Quimbo, however, invoked that it is hard to argue against a unanimous decision.

“I’ve been a practicing lawyer for quite some time and experience tells me that there is no sense appealing a unanimous en banc decision of the Supreme Court. It’s going to be a waste of time. While it has been shown that most members of the current congress has used the PDAF judiciously, we suffer from the ill practices of some of our colleagues,” Quimbo said.

“For the stability of democracy, Congress must now take the lead in respecting the decision of the Court,” Quimbo added.LLANESCA T. PANTI

What to do the morning after November 18, 2013 10:41 pm by 
PROF. EMERITUS LEONOR MAGTOLIS BRIONES HANDURAWAN

There is no need for so many words to describe the extent of destruction and devastation which Yolanda inflicted on Region 6 where Iloilo and the other Panay provinces are, Region 7 where the two Negros provinces and Cebu are, and Region 8 where Leyte and Samar are. The photographs and videos from media say it all.

Now that aid to the affected provinces is clogging up the roads leading mainly to Leyte and Samar, as well as the other islands, it is time to consider picking up the pieces and rebuilding the ruins wreaked by Yolanda.

‘Yolanda’ not the last

While disaster response and disaster mitigation is going on, it is prudent to go back to disaster preparedness. After all, we must recognize the dreadful possibility that Yolanda will not be the last of the “strongest” typhoons to hit the globe. Its strength and power could well be the normal standard for typhoons of the future, God forbid!

Yesterday, Social Watch Philippines/Alternative Budget Initiative presented its alternative budget for 2014 to senators and their staffs at the Senate of the Philippines. I don’t know if it was sheer prescience or foresight on the part of Social Watch Philippines, but a substantial portion of the alternative proposals focused on disaster preparedness and climate change.

Since 2006, Social Watch Philippines has been presenting alternative budgets on health, education, agriculture and the environment. Universal social protection for all has recently been added to the alternative budget. Social Watch’s proposals have been picked up by senators and congressmen and successfully included in the general appropriations act.

The alternative budget usually includes an analysis of the macroeconomic assumptions of the proposed budget from the executive, alternative expenditures for social development, as well as proposed sources of funding.

Some examples of proposed budget allocations: the environmental cluster has proposed P14.5 billion in additional allocations primarily for climate change, biodiversity, and renewable energy. The education cluster is proposing P44 billion for training people and children in disaster preparedness, additional funding for the Disaster Risk, Mitigation and Management Councils, as well as the conduct of studies on climate change adaptation.

The agriculture group is proposing P13 billion for the development of product, which will adapt to climate change.

On the other hand, the health cluster is proposing P10 billion for 1,000 more doctors to help cope with health needs arising from natural disasters. It is also proposing increase in the budgets of the specialty hospitals—the Lung Center, Heart Center, National Kidney Training Institute and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center.

Finally, the social protection cluster is proposing an additional P3.7 billion to take care of “left-behind” sectors, namely the Muslim and Indigenous peoples and the elderly, as well as persons with disabilities.

Where will the money be coming from? Additional expenditures cannot be proposed without identifying sources of funding. Social Watch Philippines /ABI pored through the voluminous budget documents and identified allocations which are vague or tend to be duplicative. It has also zeroed in on allocations in the Special Purpose Funds. Social Watch Philippines has always advocated for the realignment of lump sums to detailed expenditures and the transfer of these funds to frontline agencies.

Will the Senate take up these proposals for climate change and disaster preparedness? Abangan ang susunod na kabanata!

Disaster response and educational institutions

Much has already been made of the activities of the business sector and private organizations, as well as civil society organizations in disaster response. Very little has been mentioned about the work of educational institutions.

Actually, schools were among the first to respond to the cries for help from Yolanda’s victims. This served a dual purpose for them. First, it is part of their mandate to lead by example. Secondly, natural disasters serve as a laboratory for value formation and the teaching of civic duties to students and the academic community. Because they both teach and practice community service, they already have established protocols for action in times of emergencies.

I just came from the Mindanao State University/Iligan where I gave a lecture on the 2014 budget. It was heartwarming to see that the university was actively campaigning for typhoon relief. The people of Iligan know how it is to be overwhelmed by a massive natural disaster. I pointed out in one of my interviews that people from the Visayas and Mindanao are in the best position to give help because they can do it via Cebu and other island routes even as the Manila route is clogged.

Educational institutions have a duty to see to the physical safety of their students. The University of Santo Tomas has an assigned building where students can gather and even spend the night whenever there are floods. They are usually given food to tide them over until the floods subside.

Disaster preparedness and disaster mitigation and response are synonymous with Silliman University in Dumaguete City. The university’s disaster response team has rushed to the aid of flood victims in Iloilo, in Negros Oriental itself and earthquake victims in Bohol. The team was among the first to send a search and rescue team to Leyte. The university sent its first batch of 13 tons of food and supplies to Leyte and Samar. Tomorrow, the next shipment will be sent via Ormoc.

Right now, Silliman is campaigning for a mobile water purifier, generator and medical supplies for Bethany Hospital which was smashed to the ground by Yolanda.

It is also giving shelter and psychological assistance to over a hundred students from Leyte and Samar who are stranded in Dumaguete. What’s more, contributions are all accounted for!

I am very sure that the above schools are just three of the many schools and educational institutions who are doing their duty not only to teach disaster preparedness, but also disaster response.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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