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Marcos defends Romualdez on ‘Yolanda’ response, asks why DSWD ‘confiscated’ relief goods

“Everyone is offering their boats and assets to ferry it for free, but the problem is the DSWD has confiscated the relief,” he said. He cited the case of goods the Marcos and Romualdez families had tried to deliver to Tacloban and outlying towns, which ended up confiscated by the DSWD for still unclear reasons.

ALSO: ‘Yolanda’ aftermath: Long lines at Calbayog gas stations

Western Samar Representative Mel Sarmiento said they used to get their gas supply from Tacloban City but that is not possible anymore. Gas station owners in Calbayog City said Sarmiento helped them arrange for barges to transport gas tanker trucks to Samar.

ALSO: Gov’t to hold pledging session for typhoon rehab

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the administration is preparing for a pledging session to drum up support for massive relief and reconstruction efforts. The Philippines faces a mammoth rebuilding task after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas region, killing thousands with major damage to crops, homes, buildings and infrastructure.


Marcos defends Tacloban mayor on ‘Yolanda’ response, asks why DSWD ‘seized’ goods By Dennis Jay Santos Inquirer Mindanao 8:59 pm | Monday, November 18th, 2013


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Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

TACLOBAN, NOVEMBER 21, 2013 (INQUIRER) Mayor Alfred Romualdez would rather stay mum for apparently being on the receiving end of criticism for the government’s lackluster approach to the “Yolanda” tragedy but his maternal cousin, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., stood up for the executive and had put the blame on the national government instead.

“There are a lot of people (affected) for days who were not able to eat much less have water to drink and they are even checking people on the list,” Marcos told the Philippine Daily Inquirer as he tried to illustrate how the national government has been undertaking its relief efforts.

Marcos said the problem has been made complicated by the confiscation being done by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“Everyone is offering their boats and assets to ferry it for free, but the problem is the DSWD has confiscated the relief,” he said.

He cited the case of goods the Marcos and Romualdez families had tried to deliver to Tacloban and outlying towns, which ended up confiscated by the DSWD for still unclear reasons.

Marcos said he tried to understand the act as part of government efforts to streamline the distribution of assistance but the people could not understand as they starved and felt thirsty.

“That’s ok, but the thing is they won’t release them,” he said.

Marcos said it appeared the national government did not trust local leaders too.

“They should trust their officials because not only they are victims. Not only they are victims but they are also the first responder in their village,” Marcos said.

Marcos said the devastation has been so great “that it’s going to take years before the Leyte folks will be able to get back on their feet,” and the cooperation of everyone would be needed to rebuild the province.

Romualdez earlier expressed his displeasure with the national government, but would rather not say it on record.

But he said there were many “lessons learned” and that it has become important for the government and residents of Tacloban to take a long term approach to prevent another catastrophe from happening.

“I think they have to study and review the procedure,” Romualdez said, referring to the government measures adopted prior to and after the calamity.

Starting with weather forecast capability, Romualdez said it was important to know the circumstances that could create a storm.

“The weather was beautiful before that (Yolanda) came in. So you ask yourself what causes some typhoons to form because out of nowhere this came in,” he said.

He said the typhoon, initially forecast to have wind speed of 218-280 kilometers per hour, actually went beyond 300 kph during the onslaught.

He even likened the storm wind to that produced by a jet engine.

“So I think this is something to be looked up and studied because this might affect our building code,” he said.

He said for instance, that the school buildings code adopted nationwide prescribed that buildings withstand a 160-kph wind, but this would mean it could not withstand winds of more than 200 kph.

“There must be a different building code in areas like this,” he said, adding that light materials “should even be outlawed.”

“Look at Batanes, it is build to withstand and save lives,” said Romualdez.

He, however, acknowledged no amount of preparedness could prevent the destruction brought by Yolanda (international name Haiyan).

“It is like getting caught and you can’t go anywhere.”

Romualdez also said the city government had prepared Tacloban to its best, and days before Yolanda, residents were already told to evacuate.

He said he and other officials should not be faulted.

“We have a handbook in disaster preparedness,” he said.

“It is important for our future generation to know how to respond to a crisis like this. And it should be a template that nobody can change. It should be followed to the letter,” he said.

‘Yolanda’ aftermath: Long lines at Calbayog gas stations By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net 8:09 pm | Wednesday, November 20th, 2013


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Food trucks wait in a long line of vehicles carrying relief to Samar and Leyte provinces. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

CALBAYOG CITY, Philippines — Long lines at the gas station has become a new norm in this city.

Every day, the people of Calbayog City and nearby towns line up for gas as electricity on the island has yet to be restored.

One resident, Gilbert Aguilar, said he has been lining up for fuel since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” knocked down power lines last November 8, causing power outages in Samar and Leyte.

“We use this for cooking and lighting (at home),” Aguilar told INQUIRER.net as he waited for his turn at the gas pump.

He, however, said that while they have to line up, the wait was not that long.

Aguilar said people from other towns and even Leyte trek to Calbayog City for fuel. This started after Tacloban City was buffeted by storm surges.

Western Samar Representative Mel Sarmiento said they used to get their gas supply from Tacloban City but that is not possible anymore.

Gas station owners in Calbayog City said Sarmiento helped them arrange for barges to transport gas tanker trucks to Samar.

John Siopongco, owner of one of the few gas stations in the city, said everyday they receive 100 kiloliters (kL) of gas. Before the typhoon, the supply lasted for a day, now they’re constantly running out of fuel.

“By half day our supply is already gone,” he told INQUIRER.net.

Outside, around 50 people were carrying empty gas containers, hoping to get their day’s supply of fuel.

But Siopongco said with more supplies coming in, they’ll be sending fuel to their customers in Eastern Samar and Leyte soon.

“In these situations, we need the private sector’s help. We work closely with them to ensure the supply of oil for Samar and Leyte,” Sarmiento said over the phone.

He said trucks carrying relief goods are counting on gas stations in the cities of Calbayog and Catbalogan before heading to far-flung areas.

“It’s hampering our relief operations,” he said.

The congressman said he was approached by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II to help find a solution to the gas supply problem.

We conducted our own inventory and we found out there were functioning gasoline stations in other areas, he said.

He said now they are working on supplying gas to those areas to ease the demand in the cities.

Gov’t to hold pledging session for typhoon rehab By Zinnia Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 20, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government will hold a pledging session for lending agencies and donors to aid in the reconstruction of storm-ravaged Eastern Visayas.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the administration is preparing for a pledging session to drum up support for massive relief and reconstruction efforts.

The Philippines faces a mammoth rebuilding task after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas region, killing thousands with major damage to crops, homes, buildings and infrastructure.

“We’re thinking of holding a pledging session to take advantage of overwhelming support from the international community. We want to talk to donors, tell them what we need,” Abad said.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the government is arranging a meeting with the country’s development partners from the US, Japan, European Union and Australia to help rebuild the Philippines.

As of Monday, more than $270 million in foreign aid has been donated to help the victims of Yolanda.

The government has established a website called the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) which allows the public to track funds given by foreign donors.

The government, led by the National Economic and Development Authority, is carving out a rebuilding plan for the badly affected regions, which include Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, and Eastern Samar.

Abad said rehabilitation will take three to five years to complete.

The government estimated damage to infrastructure and agriculture at about P10 billion, mostly in the farming sector. Abad said the government is now assessing the damage to have a clear picture of the funds it would need to rebuild the areas crippled by the powerful storm.

Asked if reconstruction would have an impact on government spending, Abad said: “We need to make investments, not just mitigate losses.”

Multilateral agencies and lending institutions had pledged a combination of loans, grants and technical assistance.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank are finalizing a combined $1-billion emergency loan to the Philippines.

The reconstruction plan, to be presented to President Aquino in the next two weeks, will focus on immediate and near-term actions needed to rebuild facilities, restore social services and revive economic activities.

Using the emergency loans would keep the Philippines from tapping into the commercial debt market, which imposes higher interest rates than emergency loans.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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