TACLOBAN MAYOR: ROXAS IGNORED PLEA TO REINFORCE POLICE

DECEMBER 10 -TACLOBAN City Mayor Alfred Romualdez on Monday expressed anger and frustration over what he considered as the inaction of national government officials in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, particularly the refusal of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to provide manpower to help look for survivors and help the victims. “Secretary Roxas said we should legalize everything. I could not understand why I could not get support from the national government. Secretary Roxas said that ‘we have to be careful because you are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino’,” the Tacloban mayor said. Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, who presided the hearing, said the committee will invite Roxas to the next hearing. Roxas was invited to the hearing yesterday but did not show up.

ALSO: 32 days after ‘Yolanda,’ city still counting dead

DECEMBER 10 -A month after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” wrought havoc on central Philippines, this city is still counting the dead as workers continue to find bodies, raising the possibility of the death toll exceeding the original estimate of 10,000. As of Monday, the death toll here was 2,321, but Senior Supt. Pablito Cordeta, head of the government task force searching for bodies, said that figure would surely rise as the water had receded and workers reached parts of the city that had been under water or buried under typhoon debris. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in Manila reported the death toll at 5,924, with 1,779 people missing.

ALSO: Uproar over aid theft; UK media report relief goods sold for profit

DECEMBER 10 -The Mail said emergency aid sent from the United Kingdom to the Philippines “is being siphoned off and sold for profit by corrupt local officials.” “Emergency supplies delivered by military helicopters have turned up on the shelves of shops in affluent districts of the capital Manila – hundreds of miles from the disaster zone,” the paper reported. The report added that because of this problem, “the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – an umbrella group representing 14 UK charities – expressed concern about evidence that suggests not all the £60 million of aid given by Britain is reaching those most in need.” But Malacanang on Monday said that based on the government’s Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) website, relief goods from the UK “have been channelled through both the UK government and other entities such as the United Nations, the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations.”


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Tacloban mayor: Roxas ignored plea to reinforce police


Testifying at a Senate committee hearing on Monday,
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez (left) wipes away tears
while describing the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda.
PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI

TACLOBAN CITY, DECEMBER 16, 2013 (MANILA TIMES) POSTED DECEMBER 10, 2013 - by Jefferson Antiporda Reporter - TACLOBAN City Mayor Alfred Romualdez on Monday expressed anger and frustration over what he considered as the inaction of national government officials in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, particularly the refusal of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to provide manpower to help look for survivors and help the victims.

At the post-assessment hearing on Yolanda called by the Senate, Romualdez said he asked for additional security troops to replace members of the city’s police force who were themselves victims of the typhoon.

“I was asking for support, more foot soldiers to scour the areas, to secure the place and conduct rescue. I was never given that. In fact, I mentioned it to the President and the DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government] secretary to augment the police force, but instead they removed the police chief,” Romualdez, who was close to tears, said.

He said he made the request for troop augmentation a day after the typhoon hit because the city’s police force was reduced from 293 officers to just 25.

Romualdez said he repeated his request during their nightly meetings with officials of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other national government agencies, but his pleas went unanswered.

He said Roxas asked him to have the city council come up with an ordinance for a curfew to be imposed but Romualdez said that it is not doable since the council members were also victims of the typhoon.

Roxas then asked him to write a letter stating that the local government of Tacloban could no longer function and that it is allowing the national government to come in.

But Romualdez said his lawyers advised him not to make a letter because it may be deemed as a resignation.

“If you can muster thousands (of troops) for the security of the President, why can’t you provide forces to secure the city?” he said, referring to Roxas.

The mayor said he could not understand why the national government needed a letter signed by him in order to legalize the presence of the government in Tacloban.

“Secretary Roxas said we should legalize everything. I could not understand why I could not get support from the national government. Secretary Roxas said that ‘we have to be careful because you are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino’,” the Tacloban mayor said.

Interviewed after the hearing, Romualdez said Tacloban has not received even a small portion of the foreign donations sent by various countries and foreign organizations.

He made it clear that he was not suggesting that there is something wrong with the relief
distribution carried out by the national government.

“What is being projected is that we have been getting huge amounts of donation, but honestly what we are receiving are donations coming from the local government units. We have not received a single cash or centavo from the international committee,” he told reporters.

Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, who presided the hearing, said the committee will invite Roxas to the next hearing.

Roxas was invited to the hearing yesterday but did not show up.

Trillanes said the committee would like to know why the DILG was involved in the relief and rescue operations when the law states that it should be the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Committee.

FROM THE DAILY INQUIRER

32 days after ‘Yolanda,’ city still counting dead By Joey Gabieta Inquirer Visayas 1:50 am | Tuesday, December 10th, 2013


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/11/taclobanbodies.jpg

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

TACLOBAN CITY—A month after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” wrought havoc on central Philippines, this city is still counting the dead as workers continue to find bodies, raising the possibility of the death toll exceeding the original estimate of 10,000.

As of Monday, the death toll here was 2,321, but Senior Supt. Pablito Cordeta, head of the government task force searching for bodies, said that figure would surely rise as the water had receded and workers reached parts of the city that had been under water or buried under typhoon debris.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in Manila reported the death toll at 5,924, with 1,779 people missing.

International aid agencies find the official figures low, as flights over the region three days after Yolanda (international name: “Haiyan”) struck on Nov. 8 reported thousands of bodies floating in the water.

The missing now number 8,000, but the NDRRMC counts only reports passing through the approved official layers.

Under that system, local officials and health officers must submit reports of identified fatalities and missing, a tedious process that slows the count.

But even the current official death toll already exceeds the 2,000-2,500 estimate cited by President Aquino in an interview with CNN last month in which he rejected the 10,000 estimate of local officials.

Buried uncounted

Chief Supt. Rafael Soria, police director for Eastern Visayas, was sacked for talking to the press about that estimate, which was not his but only mentioned to him by Leyte Gov. Dominic Petilla who had given him a briefing after a meeting with village officials on Nov. 9.

Officials fear the missing may be among the unidentified fatalities who have not been counted and whose bodies have been buried in common pits to prevent the outbreak of disease in the typhoon-ravaged communities.

In Tacloban, Cordeta said the death toll included only the bodies that his group had found since Nov. 15.

Cordeta refused to comment on a statement by City Administrator Tecson John Lim citing “unconfirmed reports” that bodies found along the seaside were not counted and were buried by the people who found them.

Cordeta said, however, that his group finds 20 to 40 bodies a day along the coast.

The bodies are placed in body bags and carried to mass graves in Basper and Suhi villages for temporary burial, he said.

Body disposition

Lim said identifying the bodies was slow because there were only 10 forensic officers from the National Bureau of Investigation doing it with assistance from 20 people from the city.

People looking for missing relatives can go to Suhi, where the NBI is identifying and recording the dead, he said.

Lim said the identification of the bodies was slowed by the NBI’s following international guidelines for body disposition.

The guidelines include taking photographs of the dead and samples for DNA testing that can help families identify their missing relatives.

According to Lim, the guidelines prohibit the publication of information gathered by the forensic officers to protect the privacy of the dead.

Memorial park

Lim said moving the typhoon dead to their final resting places was “very difficult,” but the city government was looking to expropriate a 1.8-hectare property in the private Holy Cross cemetery in Diit village here to build a memorial park for those who died in the storm.

The cost of burying the victims would reach P20 million to P30 million, excluding the price of the land, Lim said.—With a report from Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Uproar over aid theft By Ronald Reyes | Dec. 10, 2013 at 12:01am MANILA STANDARD TODAY


UK media report relief goods sold for profit

THE British newspaper The Daily Mail reported over the weekend that pilfered relief goods meant for the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda have found their way in stores in upscale neighborhoods of Metro Manila, causing an uproar among some international relief funding agencies.

The Mail said emergency aid sent from the United Kingdom to the Philippines “is being siphoned off and sold for profit by corrupt local officials.”

“Emergency supplies delivered by military helicopters have turned up on the shelves of shops in affluent districts of the capital Manila – hundreds of miles from the disaster zone,” the paper reported.

The report added that because of this problem, “the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – an umbrella group representing 14 UK charities – expressed concern about evidence that suggests not all the £60 million of aid given by Britain is reaching those most in need.”

But Malacanang on Monday said that based on the government’s Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) website, relief goods from the UK “have been channelled through both the UK government and other entities such as the United Nations, the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations.”

“We are able to directly monitor only aid that is coursed though the Philippine government agencies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” said Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr.

Quoting a report from NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario, Coloma added that “relief and assistance have reached all of the 591 municipalities in 44 provinces covered by nine regions that were hit by typhoon Yolanda.”

“This is based on verified reports from municipal disaster risk reduction and management councils headed by mayors. Remote outlying barangays or villages have been reached by helicopters and small sea craft car-rying relief goods distributed by social workers and Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel,” Coloma added.

Coloma said there was “a need to verify further where exactly the alleged diversions occurred so that specific responsibility may be pinpointed.”

“These unverified reports are also circulated in the media where the allegations are being spread virally without benefit of validation or confirmation,” he said.

Coloma also called on those individuals who have specific knowledge of the the issue to come forward and give relevant information to the nearest DSWD or Public Information Agency office for proper action from law enforcement personnel.

The newspaper report quoted one foreigner married to a Filipina in Hernani, Eastern Samar, as saying local officials were “stealing aid in Eastern Samar.”

“The aid isn’t getting through to where it’s needed,” said Keb Darge from Scotland.

“I’ve seen the deliveries arrive and I’ve seen them disappear,” Darge said.

“Only a tiny percentage of the aid is getting through. The situation isn’t going to improve unless there’s an investigation. Someone needs to go and find out exactly what is happening. It is British aid coming

in. Why give it to untrustworthy officials to steal? It is ludicrous,” added Darge.

According to the report, Darge fled to Manila, fearing for his life after exposing the theft.

The United Nations is investigating the reports, the UN humanitarian chief said on Monday.

Valerie Amos, UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said she had expected that aid had been delivered by helicopter to survivors in even the most remote outly-ing islands following the Nov. 8 disaster.

“Although we’ve got significant aid now coming in to the major centers, we still have a little bit of a worry that in a couple of the smaller islands that there may be needs there that we haven’t managed to meet yet,” she said.

“I’m still hearing worrying reports in the media — indeed I heard one this morning — where people said they hadn’t received any aid as yet, and we’re looking into that,” she said.

Typhoon Yolanda and its tsunami-like storm surge plowed through Tacloban and other coastal areas, leaving more than 5,700 dead and more than 1,700 missing throughout the region. About 4 million people were displaced.

Amos, in Australia for aid talks with the government, defended the Philippine government against criticisms that it was too slow to deliver aid to victims.

She said the Philippines responded to more than 20 typhoons a year and was well prepared for storms.

“But the scale and severity of this was something which none of us could have anticipated,” Amos said.

Also on Monday, President Benigno Aquino III said he would seek more aid when he meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week.

Aquino and Abe are expected to witness the signing of “exchanges of notes”, including a post-disaster standby loan worth about 10 billion yen ($100 million), foreign office spokesman Raul Hernandez said Monday.

“During the meeting the two leaders will discuss cooperation on disaster management and reconstruction” in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda),” Hernandez said.

Aquino was to leave for Japan on Thursday to join fellow Southeast Asian leaders in a commemorative summit with Japan, with post-typhoon rehabilitation expected to be among the regional issues on the table.

Last week, the United Nations’ refugee agency launched a fresh appeal for emergency aid from international donors, saying it needed $19.2 million, more than double the $8.2 million it had raised so far.

The Philippine government said it had received total foreign pledges of up to $484 million. Of that total, only $12.13 million has so far been received. With AFP


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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