275,000 FAMILIES TO RECEIVE TYPHOON AID UNTIL MARCH 2014

January 4 -More than 275,000 families affected by Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas will continue to get dole-outs from the government until March 31, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said yesterday. DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said they have yet to finalize the list of vulnerable families that would receive relief supplies, including 25 kilos of rice and 25 pieces of canned goods. Soliman said vulnerable families are those with adults or breadwinners unable to engage in livelihood as well as those with pregnant mothers, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Cash-for-work program will be provided to families that will be classified as non-vulnerable, the DSWD chief said.

ALSO: OFWs warned to be wary of donating to ‘Yolanda’ victims

The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur warned Filipinos there to be wary of donating to dubious groups masquerading as charity organizations helping the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
“We have received information from the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA] that there are individuals and groups who are illegally soliciting funds for the benefit of the typhoon victims,” Medardo Macaraig, the embassy’s charge d’affaires, said in a statement. The individuals are apparently presenting themselves as members of reputable charitable institutions “to get money from unsuspecting donors.” Two Filipino women were recently caught by Thai police for falsely soliciting donations in a gasoline station in Udon Thani.

ALSO: Palace assures ‘Yolanda’ survivors aid to continue

Survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) will continue to get help this year even after the government ends the distribution of relief goods in March, Malacanang said Saturday. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, however, that even if the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would end its distribution March 31, it would still assess the situation and come up with the appropriate assistance. “The DSWD is assessing the situation of the affected families. It will continue to give assistance especially to those that need it,” Valte said on radio. She said the government may extend shelter assistance to the affected families.

ALSO: Burying the dead no easy job

Theirs is not an easy job but, they are determined to do it. They are the 30 men who, despite the rains that have been plaguing this already sodden city since Christmas, are tasked with burying more than 700 of the 1,400 unidentified bodies that have been left lying on the grounds of the health center in Suhi village here since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck nearly two months ago. The burial of the unidentified typhoon victims was not decided until early last week, long after their DNA samples had been taken and each body tagged and numbered for future identification by relatives who might come looking for them. Nearly nine out of 10 fatalities in the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” have remained unidentified more than a month after the storm hit the country, according to an official advisory. The figure was put out by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on its website, but it differed with that obtained by the Inquirer from NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario, who put the number at “only” 33 percent of the total death toll. Del Rosario said he would have the disparity in figures checked.

ALSO: Palace vows to speed up burial of 1,400 corpses

Malacañang on Thursday vowed to speed up the identification and burial of some 1,400 corpses nearly two months after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” ripped through Leyte and neighboring provinces. Residents of Barangay (village) San Isidro in Leyte had complained about the stench coming from the bodies. But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma (photo) could not say when the bodies could be finally laid to rest. He said the burial was delayed because of the “concern regarding the process of identification.”


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275,000 families to receive typhoon aid until March


Typhoon survivors play on top of a damaged house in Tacloban City. ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO

MANILA, JANUARY 6, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Rainier Allan Ronda - More than 275,000 families affected by Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas will continue to get dole-outs from the government until March 31, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said yesterday.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said they have yet to finalize the list of vulnerable families that would receive relief supplies, including 25 kilos of rice and 25 pieces of canned goods.

Soliman said vulnerable families are those with adults or breadwinners unable to engage in livelihood as well as those with pregnant mothers, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

Cash-for-work program will be provided to families that will be classified as non-vulnerable, the DSWD chief said.

The distribution of relief goods to non-vulnerable families will stop once the agency comes out with the list.

Meanwhile, Soliman said the DSWD had been very busy with disaster relief operations in 2013.

“The year 2013 has been an exhilarating year, which left us breathless but we stepped up to the challenge,” she said.

She added the agency is ready for more social welfare and development work this year.

Livelihood grant

Workers displaced by Yolanda can become entrepreneurs, with the government providing the necessary capital, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said yesterday.

“We will slowly veer away from emergency employment and focus on livelihood programs so we can help address the loss of income and jobs of people from typhoon-affected areas,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.

Baldoz said the government is providing a minimum of P10,000 grant for those who will submit a business proposal they intend to engage in.

She said typhoon victims could enter into fish drying, packaging and processing.

“There is no standard amount of grant because the government can provide bigger financial assistance to groups of typhoon victims who have a viable alternative livelihood project,” she added.

Baldoz said a total of 7.4 million workers are employed in agriculture, industrial services and home-based enterprises in the Visayas.

Of the estimated 12.2 million people affected by Yolanda, around six million workers were displaced in nine regions.

She said the government intends to implement medium-term programs aimed at generating employment for typhoon victims.

According to Baldoz, the government needs to respond immediately to prevent a surge in the number of unemployed from typhoon-affected areas.

Yolanda toll now at 6,166

The death toll from Yolanda increased yesterday to 6,166, with Eastern Visayas registering the highest number of fatalities at 5,273, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

The NDRRMC said the figure is expected to increase further when the more than 1,000 cadavers left rotting in an open field in Barangay Anibong, Tacloban City have been finally processed and buried.

Most of the unburied bodies are now lying in two cadaver collection points in Barangay Suhi and Barangay San Isidro. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Jaime Laude

FROM MANILA TIMES

OFWs warned to be wary of donating to ‘Yolanda’ victims January 3, 2014 9:27 pm by BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON REPORTER

The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur warned Filipinos there to be wary of donating to dubious groups masquerading as charity organizations helping the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

“We have received information from the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA] that there are individuals and groups who are illegally soliciting funds for the benefit of the typhoon victims,” Medardo Macaraig, the embassy’s charge d’affaires, said in a statement.

The individuals are apparently presenting themselves as members of reputable charitable institutions “to get money from unsuspecting donors.”

Two Filipino women were recently caught by Thai police for falsely soliciting donations in a gasoline station in Udon Thani.

They were posing as volunteer of a charitable organization, and were found to have fake stickers, a list of donations and some cash when taken under custody.

“While we have not heard of any cases here in Malaysia, we would like to warn our Filipino community members and our Malaysian friends to do some research on the charitable organization before making any donation,” Macaraig said.

“It is also best that donations be coursed through reputable Filipino or Malaysian charitable organizations to ensure that their money or in-kind donations reach their intended recipients,” he added.

Super Typhoon Yolanda struck central Visayas on November 8 and destroyed billions of pesos worth of public and private infrastructures. More than 6,100 people also perished because of the typhoon.

The international community—governments and individuals—raised billions worth of dollars in cash and in-kind donations.

Efforts are now ongoing towards rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by the typhoon, with the Philippine government releasing its Rehabilitation Assistance on Yolanda in a briefing held on December 18 before the diplomatic corps and development partners at the DFA.

In his speech during the briefing, Philippine President Benigno Aquino 3rd said the plan aims to ensure that the communities that rise again do so stronger, better and more resilient than before.

Palafox warns of corruption in ‘Yolanda’-stricken areas January 3, 2014 9:04 pm by JING VILLAMENTE REPORTER

RENOWNED urban planner Architect Felino “Jun” Palafox on Friday warned of corruption that might hit government officials tasked with reconstructing the areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Speaking at the weekly Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt forum, Palafox, a civilian volunteer to the reconstruction and rehabilitation body for Central Visayas said “corruption and climate change should be considered first as people tasked to help the region might be tempted to “pocket the money instead.”

“Government should, if it has so much funds from local and foreign donors, ensure that there will be no corruption in rehabilitating [the devastated areas],” he said.

He added that while the infrastructure part is government’s, “85 percent of it, is participated or carried out by the private sector which gives more sound and reliable infrastructure projects.”

In Makati and Muntinlupa, Palafox said if the government handed the infra projects to private sector, “they are in good hands with better results.”

He hinted that while corruption in the country had a P10 billion yearly take, “rehabilitation in Yolanda-hit areas will only take months to fill the pockets of corrupt officials.”

“Relocation alone will give more problems since it takes 32 signatures to start a project and another 12 signatures before a building permit could be issued,” Palafox said.

Jimbo Reverente, deputy executive director of the public-private partnership program of the government said “in their initial stage of trying to have a more transparent transaction with government projects suffered growth pains.”

“But we were able to implement alternative procurement to traditional one for lack of transparency,” hinting that they can be tapped by Rehabilitation Czar former Senator Ping Lacson to protect the rehabilitation projects in Central Visayas from corruption.

Palafox added that the “no build zone” must be strictly enforced to prevent similar (Yolanda-type) destruction and that the relocation homes for residents must have concrete roofs.

“We should apply incremental approach. Houses must not be less than 21 square meters so there will be rooms for the children, unlike the usual Filipino house of six to nine square meters,” he said.

Geologist Ric Javesola, formerly an official of the Department of Environment Natural Resources (DENR), said the areas ravaged in Tacloban and Leyte were covered in their 1982 study of wet lands.

“There is no way to reconstruct the areas in its present form,” Javesola said.

The San Jose Airport, he said, is “an active spit bane and natural receptor for big waves.”

“We should revisit Tacloban and Leyte in 1950s. They were really swamplands. It’s time to relocate,” he added.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Burying the dead no easy job 12:41 am | Sunday, January 5th, 2014


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/12/yolanda-dead-1216-e1388855611922.jpg
Nearly nine out of 10 fatalities in the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” have remained unidentified more than a month after the storm hit the country, according to an official advisory. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

TACLOBAN CITY—Theirs is not an easy job but, they are determined to do it.

They are the 30 men who, despite the rains that have been plaguing this already sodden city since Christmas, are tasked with burying more than 700 of the 1,400 unidentified bodies that have been left lying on the grounds of the health center in Suhi village here since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck nearly two months ago.

The burial of the unidentified typhoon victims was not decided until early last week, long after their DNA samples had been taken and each body tagged and numbered for future identification by relatives who might come looking for them.

The city government blamed the delay on bad weather, but Health Secretary Enrique Ona ordered quick action and to finish the burial by this week.

Nearly nine out of 10 fatalities in the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” have remained unidentified more than a month after the storm hit the country, according to an official advisory.

The figure was put out by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on its website, but it differed with that obtained by the Inquirer from NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario, who put the number at “only” 33 percent of the total death toll. Del Rosario said he would have the disparity in figures checked.

Expediting burial

Weather permitting, the city government could do the job, City Administrator Tecson John Lim said.
“By Tuesday, [we hope], we can finish the burial,” Lim said.

In Manila, former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, now overseer of the government’s rehabilitation program for communities destroyed by Yolanda, said the burial would be finished on Tuesday.

Lacson said Health Undersecretary Janet Garin was supervising the burial of the bodies in a temporary mass grave in Suhi.

“She deployed additional personnel. [The Department of Public Works and Highways] sent additional backhoes and payloaders to [expedite] the mass burial. They [planned] to process and bury 300 [bodies on Saturday],” Lacson said.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma later confirmed that 300 bodies were buried on Saturday.

Paid ‘volunteers’

The 30 men in Suhi have been working since Thursday. Wearing operating-room-gown-like clothes, gloves and masks, they bury bodies in a pit 4.5 meters deep and 40 meters long.

The men said they were volunteers, but Lim said they were being paid P500 a day, with the city government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) splitting the cost between them.

The men described their task as “just a regular job.”

“We know that these are people, victims of Yolanda. We were tasked to bury them here, so we are just doing our job,” said Francis Retana, 24, a resident of the nearby village of Camansihay.

For three days now, Retana and his coworkers, along with with 30 soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division, have been burying bodies.

There were 736 bodies in black body bags on the ground. The men have buried more than 400 bodies.

Unpleasant job

Dr. Siobhan Ruddel, of the World Health Organization- Western Pacific Region, commended the men for undertaking the job.

“It’s not a pleasant job but they are doing it the best way they can,” Ruddel said.

The corpses, in black bags donated by the Department of Health, are laid side by side and covered with tarpaulin donated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Then a payloader covers the pit with earth.

A 17-year-old boy, the youngest of the workers, said he did not feel anything when he picked up a body for burial.

“This is just a job. I am not scared. They are dead,” he said. With a report from Michael Lim Ubac in Manila

Palace assures ‘Yolanda’ survivors aid to continue By Nestor Corrales INQUIRER.net 3:49 pm | Saturday, January 4th, 2014


PHOTO FROM UNICEF WEBSITE: UNICEF is on the ground ensuring every child has access to clean drinking water, essential medicines and emergency nutritional supplements, but our supplies are stretched to the limit. We need you to help today to reach more families. Give these families the chance to survive. Help those hit by Typhoon Haiyan. DONATE NOW. http://www.unicef.ca/

MANILA, Philippines – Survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) will continue to get help this year even after the government ends the distribution of relief goods in March, Malacanang said Saturday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, however, that even if the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would end its distribution March 31, it would still assess the situation and come up with the appropriate assistance.

“The DSWD is assessing the situation of the affected families. It will continue to give assistance especially to those that need it,” Valte said on radio.

She said the government may extend shelter assistance to the affected families.

She said the government also extended such help to families in Zamboanga City who were displaced by the siege between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by its chairman Nur Misuari last September.

Supertyphoon “Yolanda” devastated the Visayas last November 8 leaving behind more than 6,000 fatalities.

Palace vows to speed up burial of 1,400 corpses By Christian V. Esguerra Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:53 am | Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Malacañang on Thursday vowed to speed up the identification and burial of some 1,400 corpses nearly two months after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” ripped through Leyte and neighboring provinces.

Residents of Barangay (village) San Isidro in Leyte had complained about the stench coming from the bodies.

But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma (photo) could not say when the bodies could be finally laid to rest.

He said the burial was delayed because of the “concern regarding the process of identification.”

Coloma recalled that the National Bureau of Investigation had announced that it would follow the protocols set by the Interpol.

“Based on the observation of other agencies, and this was also conveyed to the NBI, perhaps it was possible if the procedure could be modified [because of] the fact that the Interpol procedures are procedures used to gather evidence in criminal cases,” he said.

“Of course, they are more detailed. But these victims of the calamity, they are not similarly situated as the victims of crimes.”

Coloma said the NBI and other agencies tasked to deal with the corpses tackled the matter and had “arrived at an agreement on how to address the concern so that the identification process could become more efficient.”

“That was agreed upon. There is interagency coordination. The facilities have been provided and the focus now is on how to speed up the burial process, giving due respect to the remains of those who perished in the calamity,” he added.

On its website, the Interpol said “the process of identifying victims of major disasters such as terrorist attacks or earthquakes is rarely possible by visual recognition.”

“Comparison of fingerprints, dental records or DNA samples with ones stored in databases or taken from victims’ personal effects are often required to obtain a conclusive identification,” it added.

Quoting Secretary Panfilo Lacson, the administration’s main man in the typhoon rehabilitation effort, Coloma said the NBI was now working closely with the Department of Health and the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Tacloban City government to “speed up the burial of some 1,400 bodies.”

“The DOH has sent 1,500 body bags and protective kits for personnel doing the work.

The DPWH has sent additional backhoes and payloaders, and the NBI has redeployed its forensic team on the ground,” Coloma added.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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