PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK

'SENIANG'  MOVING FASTER, FLASHFLOODS KILLS 21 AND RISING

PHILSTAR: DEC 30 ---Flash floods and landslides triggered by Tropical Storm “Seniang” (international name: Jangmi)left more than 20 people dead and at least 10 missing in the Philippines, including in areas still recovering from last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, officials said Tuesday. In a radio interview, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that Seniang has killed 21 people. Figures provided by local officials, however, estimated more people could have died because of the storm. Mayor Stephanie Uy-Tan said 12 people died when a landslide buried two vans and six houses near a mountainside highway in eastern Catbalogan City. She said voices could still be heard from one of the vans and that rescue efforts were ongoing. Olive Luces, a regional civil defense official, said 10 members of a family died after a creek-side house where they had gathered was washed away by flash floods in central Cebu province. Three other people were missing in the same town. In eastern Leyte province’s Tanauan town, which was devastated last year by Typhoon Haiyan, army rescuers retrieved five bodies from a house buried by landslide. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: ‘Seniang’ weakens, leaves 59 dead  

DEC 31 ---PHOTO: A resident of Barangay (village) Simala in Sibonga town curiously looks at the damaged Dumlog bridge connecting the national highway in going to Argao. The bridge’s approach collapsed making it impassable to commuters. CARMEL MATUS/INQUIRER VISAYAS MANILA, Philippines—Tropical Storm “Seniang” weakened as it swirled out of the country early Wednesday, sparing Palawan province from heavy rains that had sparked flooding and landslides earlier in the eastern sections of Mindanao and the Visayas, and leaving at least 59 dead, according to official reports. The last cyclone of the year, and internationally called “Jang-mi,” Seniang was degraded to a tropical depression, prompting the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) to lower the storm warnings. Seniang will leave the Philippine area of responsibility by Friday morning, Pagasa said. The Visayas still had rains but could expect the weather to clear later in the evening, as it did in Mindanao since the storm hit the area on Monday with peak winds of 65 kilometers per hour, forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said. The rest of the country will have fair weather on the first day of 2015, he said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: 3 provinces hit hard by storm Seniang 

DEC 31 --Washed away. Floodwaters from the rain induced by tropical storm Seniang inundate a school building in Tacloban City. Mel Caspe  ---Cebu also clobbered; Seniang death toll rises to 53 Bohol, Misamis Oriental and Asuncion in Davao del Norte were declared in a state of calamity—with Cebu province another possible candidate—even as the death toll from tropical storm Seniang rose to 53, officials said Wednesday. Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said most of the new fatalities were killed by rain-induced landslides in Catbalogan City.
“We have recovered 19 fatalities in the area and our rescue teams are still searching for three more missing people,” said Catbalogan City Mayor Stephanie Uy Tan. Malacañang said the high number of fatalities in the areas battered by typhoon Seniang was due to landslides. READ FULL REPORT...

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(ALSO) As of Dec 30: Number of firecracker victims up to 162  

The number of firecracker-related injuries has ballooned to
162, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Tuesday. Based on the its Action Paputok Injury Reduction update, the DOH said that there were 160 firecracker injuries while two cases involved persons who ingested firecrackers. The DOH has yet to report any deaths due to firecracker blasts and stray bullets. The state agency said that the number is still 67 cases or 29 percent lower than the firecracker-related injuries recorded by the department from 2009 up to 2013. READ MORE...

ALSO: Abu Sayyaf strengthens in 2014

The strength of the Abu Sayyaf rose in 2014 despite previous military claims that the capability and membership of the local terrorist group have been significantly reduced. Military data released on Tuesday showed that the number of Abu Sayyaf members stood at 423, higher than the figures reported since 2009. According to previous military statements, the strength of the Abu Sayyaf stood at 390 in 2009 and 340 in 2010. The group’s membership was pegged at 381 in 2011 and at 398 in 2012. In 2013, security officials reported that the Abu Sayyaf’s strength stood at around 385. In an interview with reporters last month, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. admitted that the number of people aligned with the bandit group remained at around 400. He said majority of the militants are operating in Sulu. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace mum on Cabinet revamp

Malacañang is mum on possible changes in the Cabinet this year due to the resignation of Health Secretary Enrique Ona and the coming elections.  “No information on changes in the Cabinet,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday. Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said President Aquino had not yet chosen a replacement for Ona, who resigned amid an investigation into the Department of Health’s questionable purchase of vaccines and other issues involving him. Asked if Aquino already has a list of choices to replace Ona, Lacierda said: “We’ll know by next year. Right now we have no information yet. By next year, hopefully we’ll have an announcement coming forth from the Palace.”  At present, Health Undersecretary Janette Garin is serving as acting secretary. Presidential assistant for recovery and reconstruction Panfilo Lacson will also be leaving the Cabinet as he had finished the transition work in government’s efforts to rehabilitate areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. READ FULL REPORT ...

ILO: RP SMEs need gov’t assistance to withstand destructive typhoons  

PHOTO: In the wake of strong typhoons, small and medium-sized businesses in the Philippines from farms to fisheries were need assistance from the govt, says International Labor Organization....Government assistance in the form of incentives and trainings is crucial for Philippine small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to increase their disaster preparedness amid the rising incidence of super typhoons, massive floods and other destructives calamities hitting the country.Lourdes Espinosa, a consultant with the International Labor Organization (ILO), said that SMEs are the most affected by the devastation of disasters.She said only with preparedness assistance programs from government can SMEs survive and get back on their feet. “Within the private sector we find that SMEs are the most vulnerable, and they find it more difficult to bounce back,” Espinosa said in a presentation at a recent business conference on disaster-resilient workplaces in Makati recently. This is the case even in developed economies, she continued, citing the tsunami incident in Japan in 2011 where 90 percent of the SMEs affected by the disaster closed down. Forty percent of these SMEs in Japan never recovered. The reasons SMEs are the hardest hit include their limited resources, difficulty in accessing institutional financing and high dependence on more informal credit sources offering higher interest rates. Moreover, SMEs “don’t get a lot of government support and they are highly dependent on a single, local market,” said Espinosa.READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

‘Seniang’ moving faster, kills 21

MANILA, JANUARY 5, 2015 (INQUIRER) Kristine Angeli Sabillo @KSabilloINQ – Flash floods and landslides triggered by Tropical Storm “Seniang” (international name: Jangmi)left more than 20 people dead and at least 10 missing in the Philippines, including in areas still recovering from last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, officials said Tuesday.

In a radio interview, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that Seniang has killed 21 people. Figures provided by local officials, however, estimated more people could have died because of the storm.

Mayor Stephanie Uy-Tan said 12 people died when a landslide buried two vans and six houses near a mountainside highway in eastern Catbalogan City. She said voices could still be heard from one of the vans and that rescue efforts were ongoing.

Olive Luces, a regional civil defense official, said 10 members of a family died after a creek-side house where they had gathered was washed away by flash floods in central Cebu province. Three other people were missing in the same town.

In eastern Leyte province’s Tanauan town, which was devastated last year by Typhoon Haiyan, army rescuers retrieved five bodies from a house buried by landslide.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that Seniang is now moving faster and heading toward Cuyo Island.

SENIANG_SIGNALS_12302014_11amPagasa said in its 5 p.m. weather bulletin that Seniang, which packs maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometeres per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph, is now moving westward at 19 kph.

The storm was spotted 108 kilometers southwest of Iloilo City on Tuesday 4 p.m.

Public Storm Warning Signal no. 2 was raised in Cuyo Island and Palawan, Guimaras, southern Antique and Southern Iloilo.

Meanwhile, Signal no. 1 was hoisted over Calamian Group of Islands, Negros Occidental, Aklan, Capiz, the rest of Iloilo, and the rest of Antique.

Estimated rainfall remains moderate to heavy or at 7.5 to 15 millimeters per hour within the 300-kilometer diameter of the tropical storm.

Those living in provinces where a storm signal was hoisted are warned against possible flashfloods and landslides.


FROM THE INQUIRER

‘Seniang’ weakens, leaves 59 dead Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Marlon Ramos | Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:44 AM | Thursday, January 1st, 2015


A resident of Barangay (village) Simala in Sibonga town curiously looks at the damaged Dumlog bridge connecting the national highway in going to Argao. The bridge’s approach collapsed making it impassable to commuters. CARMEL MATUS/INQUIRER VISAYAS

MANILA, Philippines—Tropical Storm “Seniang” weakened as it swirled out of the country early Wednesday, sparing Palawan province from heavy rains that had sparked flooding and landslides earlier in the eastern sections of Mindanao and the Visayas, and leaving at least 59 dead, according to official reports.

The last cyclone of the year, and internationally called “Jang-mi,” Seniang was degraded to a tropical depression, prompting the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) to lower the storm warnings. Seniang will leave the Philippine area of responsibility by Friday morning, Pagasa said.

The Visayas still had rains but could expect the weather to clear later in the evening, as it did in Mindanao since the storm hit the area on Monday with peak winds of 65 kilometers per hour, forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said.

The rest of the country will have fair weather on the first day of 2015, he said.

Seniang left at least 59 people dead due to landslides and flash floods in the Visayas and Mindanao, local authorities said Wednesday in separate reports to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The authorities said 19 people were killed, while 20 were hurt in a landslide on Tuesday in Barangay (village) Mercedes, Catbalogan City, in Samar; 16 died while four were injured in different incidents in Leyte province; and 12 people died while three were missing in massive floods that hit Ronda town. A child drowned in Alcantara and a fisherman drowned at sea in San Francisco, all in Cebu province.

The other deaths reported by local authorities were three people who were either electrocuted or who drowned in Bohol province; two who drowned in Compostela Valley; two in Bukidnon province who drowned or were killed by a fallen tree; one who drowned in Misamis Oriental province; one who died after a landslide in Butuan City; and one who died of drowning in Agusan del Norte province.

The NDRRMC, however, has confirmed so far only 53 of the reported deaths: 3 in Bohol; 14 in Cebu; 10 in Leyte; 19 in Samar; 2 in Bukidnon; 2 in Compostela Valley; and one each in Misamis Oriental, Butuan City and Agusan del Norte.

Some sections of 21 national roads in the Visayas and Mindanao were closed to traffic due to landslides and flash floods, the Department of Public Works and Highways reported. “All other national roads in these regions remained open to traffic,” it said.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday maintained that the national government had been in touch with the local government units in areas affected by the storm several days before it made landfall.

Roxas said state agencies were prepared to help the displaced. “We observe the ‘whole of government approach’ even during the holiday season,” he said.

Regional directors of the Department of the Interior and Local Government had been directed to contact the governors and mayors of the affected provinces and towns to implement their disaster preparedness plans.

“Even before the storm made landfall last Monday, we had been coordinating with the local chief executives of the towns in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Roxas said.

The government has come up with a “standard operating procedure” for local chief executives as well as officials of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Department of Social Welfare and Development to carry out in times of natural calamities, he said.—With a report from Jerry E. Esplanada


FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

3 provinces hit hard by storm  By Joyce Pangco Panares, Francisco Tuyay and Ronald O. Reyes | Jan. 01, 2015 at 12:01am


Washed away. Floodwaters from the rain induced by tropical storm
Seniang inundate a school building in Tacloban City. Mel Caspe

Cebu also clobbered; Seniang death toll rises to 53

BOHOL, Misamis Oriental and Asuncion in Davao del Norte were declared in a state of calamity—with Cebu province another possible candidate—even as the death toll from tropical storm Seniang rose to 53, officials said Wednesday.

Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said most of the new fatalities were killed by rain-induced landslides in Catbalogan City.

“We have recovered 19 fatalities in the area and our rescue teams are still searching for three more missing people,” said Catbalogan City Mayor Stephanie Uy Tan.

Malacañang said the high number of fatalities in the areas battered by typhoon Seniang was due to landslides.

“As directed by the President, the government is mobilizing all the resources needed to provide relief and assistance to the families and communities affected by Typhoon Seniang,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.said.

“According to the NDRRMC, the higher casualty count is accounted for largely by landslides in Catbalogan, Samar, and Tanauan, Leyte, and the flash floods in Ronda in Cebu province.

“Nineteen perished in the Catbalogan landslide, while 10 died in the landslides in Tanauan and Mahaplag, Leyte. Thirteen died from the flash floods in Ronda, Cebu.

“While Typhoon Seniang affected 839 barangays in 74 municipalities, 10 cities, 12 provinces and five regions, 80 per cent of all the reported casualties were accounted for only by the aforementioned landslides and flash floods in three localities.

“As in the case of Typhoon Sendong in December 2012, Typhoon Seniang brought on floods due to continuous rainfall over a 24-hour period.”

Pama said Seniang affected 52,000 families and injured 26 people, while eight were still missing.

A TV report said many residents in Southern Cebu lost animals, houses and other property.

In Alcantara town, residents were surprised by the floods that washed away their homes, crops and animals and left many villages as virtual swimming pools.

Mayor Beatriz Caburnay said it was the first time the town had experienced heavy flooding.

In Ronda town, at least 13 residents were reported killed while three more were missing in the wake of the floods.

In Dumanjug town, floods washed away houses and animals, and Vice Mayor Gungun Gica said more than half of Tabon village was badly affected.

In Cebu City, only one lane of the Trans-Central Highway in Busay village was passable after a landslide sent rocks falling and blocking the other lane.

In Balamban town, heavy rain made part of the highway in Gaas village impassable, while big waves damaged many outriggers in Lapu-Lapu City.

The weather bureau said Seniang was expected to make landfall in Palawan by Wednesday afternoon.

“It has not made landfall in Palawan yet but it will by Wednesday afternoon, forecaster Gladys Saludes said, adding storm signal no.2 had been raised in the province.

Seniang has maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph.

The storm is expected to be 130 km southwest of Puerto Princesa City by Thursday morning and outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Friday morning.

Saludes says there’s a possibility that Seniang will turn into a tropical depression or even dissipate as it heads toward Vietnam. With PNA


FROM PHILSTAR

As of Dec 30: Number of firecracker victims rises to 162 By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated December 30, 2014 - 2:31pm 3 2 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The number of firecracker-related injuries has ballooned to 162, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Tuesday.

Based on the its Action Paputok Injury Reduction update, the DOH said that there were 160 firecracker injuries while two cases involved persons who ingested firecrackers.

The DOH has yet to report any deaths due to firecracker blasts and stray bullets.

The state agency said that the number is still 67 cases or 29 percent lower than the firecracker-related injuries recorded by the department from 2009 up to 2013.

The figure is also 113 cases or 41 percent lower than the firecracker-related injuries recorded in 2013, the DOH said.

Of the 160 injured, 138, or 86 percent, are men with ranging between three to 68 years old while 56 cases, or , 35 percent are children mostly 10 year olds.

The DOH said that 71 firecracker victims, or 41 percent, come from the National Capital Region, most of whom come from the City of Manila with 27 cases.

Six of the victims lost their fingers while 31 sustained eye injuries due to firecracker blasts, the DOH said.

Over 100 victims were injured from the blast of the firecracker called piccolo, the DOH added.


FROM PHILSTAR

Abu Sayyaf strengthens in 2014  By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated December 30, 2014 - 4:18pm 14 36 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines - The strength of the Abu Sayyaf rose in 2014 despite previous military claims that the capability and membership of the local terrorist group have been significantly reduced.

Military data released on Tuesday showed that the number of Abu Sayyaf members stood at 423, higher than the figures reported since 2009.

According to previous military statements, the strength of the Abu Sayyaf stood at 390 in 2009 and 340 in 2010. The group’s membership was pegged at 381 in 2011 and at 398 in 2012.

In 2013, security officials reported that the Abu Sayyaf’s strength stood at around 385.

In an interview with reporters last month, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. admitted that the number of people aligned with the bandit group remained at around 400. He said majority of the militants are operating in Sulu.

The military, nevertheless, claimed that the Abu Sayyaf is weaker now compared to more than a decade ago.

“Their (Abu Sayyaf) manpower continued to dwindle from their original number in 2000 at 1,270 to 423 in 2014,” Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

Cabunoc said the combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf resulted in the death and capture of a total of 69 bandits in the first nine months of 2014. A total of 36 firearms were recovered from the terrorist group during the period.

The number of violent incidents involving the bandits totaled 72 this year.

“However, their kidnapping activities remain a major concern,” Cabunoc said.

Three foreigners kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf were released this year namely German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrite Dielen and Swiss wildlife photographer Lorenzo Vinciguerra.

Officials claimed the release of the kidnap victims were due to the military’s operations but rumors that ransom were paid to secure their release persist.


FROM PHILSTAR

Palace mum on Cabinet revamp By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 1, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is mum on possible changes in the Cabinet this year due to the resignation of Health Secretary Enrique Ona and the coming elections.

“No information on changes in the Cabinet,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said President Aquino had not yet chosen a replacement for Ona, who resigned amid an investigation into the Department of Health’s questionable purchase of vaccines and other issues involving him.

Asked if Aquino already has a list of choices to replace Ona, Lacierda said: “We’ll know by next year. Right now we have no information yet. By next year, hopefully we’ll have an announcement coming forth from the Palace.”

At present, Health Undersecretary Janette Garin is serving as acting secretary.

Presidential assistant for recovery and reconstruction Panfilo Lacson will also be leaving the Cabinet as he had finished the transition work in government’s efforts to rehabilitate areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Some Cabinet members are seen to be running for elective office in 2016, in which case they need to resign from their posts.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, a member of the Cabinet as housing chief and adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns, said he would stay in the Cabinet or as long as the President wants him to.

There is no word yet from the presumptive standard-bearer and sentimental choice of the Liberal Party, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, as to his plans for 2015 and 2016.

The Palace has been saying that it will focus on the many things that still need to be done as the Aquino administration enters its fifth and penultimate year.

To institutionalize reforms, the priorities would be the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and increased government spending.

“Number one, our reform measures are ongoing. But our priority right now is the BBL. We need to pass the BBL so that we will be able to capacitate the leaders of the new juridical entity,” he said.

“Hopefully, that will be passed by first quarter, there will be a plebiscite and then during that time after the plebiscite there will be capacity building so that... by 2016, the (new) Bangsamoro Juridical Entity will be held simultaneously or be synchronized with the next elections,” he added.

As to increasing government spending, Lacierda admitted that government spending was low last year, which contributed to slower economic growth in the third quarter.


FROM THE TRIBUNE

ILO: RP SMEs need gov’t assistance to withstand destructive typhoons Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 24 December 2014 00:00


PHOTO: In the wake of strong typhoons, small and medium-sized businesses in the Philippines from farms to fisheries were need assistance from the govt, says International Labor Organization....

Government assistance in the form of incentives and trainings is crucial for Philippine small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to increase their disaster preparedness amid the rising incidence of super typhoons, massive floods and other destructives calamities hitting the country.

Lourdes Espinosa, a consultant with the International Labor Organization (ILO), said that SMEs are the most affected by the devastation of disasters.

She said only with preparedness assistance programs from government can SMEs survive and get back on their feet.

“Within the private sector we find that SMEs are the most vulnerable, and they find it more difficult to bounce back,” Espinosa said in a presentation at a recent business conference on disaster-resilient workplaces in Makati recently.

This is the case even in developed economies, she continued, citing the tsunami incident in Japan in 2011 where 90 percent of the SMEs affected by the disaster closed down. Forty percent of these SMEs in Japan never recovered.

The reasons SMEs are the hardest hit include their limited resources, difficulty in accessing institutional financing and high dependence on more informal credit sources offering higher interest rates.

Moreover, SMEs “don’t get a lot of government support and they are highly dependent on a single, local market,” said Espinosa.

“It is important to help them because SMEs comprise 90 percent of the private sector not only here in the Philippines but also across Asia, and they form the backbone of our economy. The survival of SMEs will actually ensure also the survival of the 90 percent of the labor force,” she added.

Boosting the disaster resilience of SMEs requires enhancing their preparedness to anticipate and minimize losses and damages as well as their ability to respond quickly and resume normal operations to ensure business survival.

But Espinosa said SMEs first need to overcome barriers to disaster planning, including a fatalistic stance, where some believe it is God’s will and that preparing would only serve to “invite” disasters.

Cost is another barrier since attending business continuity planning and disaster preparedness trainings or taking out insurance can be quite expensive.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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