[PHOTO AT LEFT - Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who chairs the National Disaster Coordinating Council, briefs reporters on the extent of heavy flooding brought by tropical storm ‘Ondoy’ in Luzon, including Metro Manila. BOY SANTOS | MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 27, 2009 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - President Arroyo has ordered the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to deploy all available assets of the government to assist those affected by the flooding brought about by typhoon “Ondoy.”

She also appealed to residents of Metro Manila and the provinces affected by the storm to remain calm and follow the instructions of their respective local and civil defense authorities and to be ready to help others “as we manage our way out of this latest natural calamity.”

“Your government is mobilizing all its resources to rescue people from the floodwaters, attend to the food and medical needs of the displaced, maintain public utilities and other essential services and maintain public order,” she said in a statement.

The President called on the people to be ready to provide assistance to those affected by the storm. Mrs. Arroyo urged those who can to donate food, clothes, blankets, medicine and other items that would be needed by those affected by the calamity.

“As ever, let us pull together and look out for each other in the finest Filipino tradition of caring and sharing,” she said.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President was continuously monitoring the situation at Malacañang where she was given regular updates by the authorities.

The flooding was so bad in Metro Manila that even the President was forced to stay at the Palace.

Remonde said the President called for an emergency meeting of the NDCC yesterday and was actually on her way to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City but was forced to turn back because of the roads were impassable.

He said Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, as head of the NDCC, and MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando were ordered to deploy all of their personnel to the affected areas to provide all the necessary assistance.

The President asked Teodoro to preside over yesterday’s meeting at the NDCC but she was constantly on the phone with him to issue her directives.

Remonde said the President would call another meeting of the NDCC tomorrow.

But just before 5 p.m. yesterday, the President boarded an Army truck and headed for Camp Aguinaldo. The truck, however, was stuck in traffic and the President ended up taking the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) on EDSA to get to Camp Aguinaldo.

Earlier in the day, the President was able to leave the Palace yesterday morning for the launching of the switch to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) project in Tondo, Manila.

Around 2,000 poor households in Tondo were given free energy-saving CFLs in exchange for the incandescent bulbs they were presently using.

It was revealed that 13 million CFLs would be distributed nationwide in the coming months.

The President stayed in Tondo for around 30 minutes before heading back to the Palace.

Headlines Floods force politicians to take a break By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated September 27, 2009 12:00 AM

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Traffic stands still on Roxas Boulevard and many parts of the metro due to heavy rains yesterday. JOVEN CAGANDE |MANILA, Philippines]

Politicians took a break from their usual sorties as tropical storm “Ondoy” caused heavy rains and submerged many places in the country, including Metro Manila.

Senators Benigno Aquino III and Manuel Roxas II, who were in Mindanao, said they would fly back to Manila today to help in the relief operations instead. They called on the public to help as they would convert the Liberal Party headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City into a relief center.

Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. also said that due to bad weather conditions, the rock concert he was supposed to sponsor yesterday at the SM Mall of Asia’s concert grounds was postponed for the protection of the public.

“Severe rains and flooding brought about by typhoon Ondoy is causing suffering for many of our countrymen. I am calling on everyone to assist in relief efforts. Let us help those who are already engaged in the difficult task of providing relief by making ourselves available to relevant agencies and government units,” Aquino said in a statement.

“I am personally asking all our volunteers to assist in our relief efforts. I have asked my team to convert our Balay Cubao headquarters into a relief operations center and to use whatever we raised in our ‘piso-piso’ (one-peso) campaign for relief efforts. We are also coordinating with Gawad Kalinga and Caritas Manila for the identification of drop-off points for donations,” Aquino added.

Aquino said once again, Filipinos were being called upon to show “our love for our fellow Filipinos.”

“I am asking everyone to pray so that the weather improves soon to allow us to easily reach those who need help the most,” he said.

Aquino said whatever funds that had been collected for the campaign would be used instead to buy relief goods and other needs of the typhoon victims.

Roxas said they would accept donations and relief goods for distribution to the victims of the typhoon at their headquarters.

“Magsama-sama po tayo at ipunin ang makakaya natin upang maibigay natin sa mga kababayan nating nangangailangan ng tulong sa panahon na ito (Let us all come together and gather whatever we can to give to our fellowmen who are in need at this time),” Aquino said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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