MANILA, NOVEMBER 11, 2013 (MANILA TIMES) by Catherine S. Valente and Jhoanna Ballaran Reporters - President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Sunday blew his top and walked out of a disaster meeting when told of the massive devastation in Tacloban City.

The President blamed local officials for the high death toll in the city, saying the local government did not prepare enough for the monster typhoon.

DzMM radio reported that the President lost his temper and walked out of the briefing.
Aquino was also dismayed with the reports by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) head Eduardo del Rosario.

Del Rosario reported that Tacloban is 95 percent devastated. The President questioned the figures and asked del Rosario to double-check.

The dzMM reported that Aquino appeared annoyed when a local businessman asked him to declare martial law in the city to stop widespread looting.

The President said he will look into the proposal considering that it is not in the Constitution.

After 10 minutes, the President returned to the briefing, dzMM said.

In an earlier media briefing, the President took a swipe at local officials in Tacloban for being unprepared for the typhoon.

”I hate to say it but it seems it was not very prepared compared to other areas,” he said.

Aquino noted that in most hard-hit areas the casualty count was low.

He said the local officials will “have to explain” the high number of deaths. “Any casualty is an issue with me,” he said.

The President visited typhoon-ravaged Tacloban and Roxas cities with Cabinet members including Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, and Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras.

Aquino earlier assured the government has enough funds to address the needs of the victims, including relief goods and restoration of communication lines in badly hit areas.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon urged Aquino to stop blaming local officials because everybody in Tacloban is a victim of the disaster.

“At a time when our people have barely recovered from the devastation wreaked by Super Typhoon Yolanda, it is simply in bad taste to blame the extent of the damages and casualties to the locality which suffered the most,” Ridon said in a statement.

Ridon said the national government should rethink its disaster preparedness plan.

Disaster preparedness must start with pre-disaster activities and infrastructure like typhoon drills, pre-positioned relief goods, proactive warning systems, and a nationwide emergency response system, he said.


Aquino set to visit Yolanda-battered Tacloban BY CARMELA FONBUENA
POSTED ON 11/09/2013 8:01 PM | UPDATED 11/10/2013 10:51 AM Comments 47

SUBSTANTIALLY MORE: said there's 'substantially more.' Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III is scheduled to visit Tacloban City on Sunday, November 10, he told reporters Saturday evening.

"The expectation is by tomorrow, they have finished preparations for going. I actually asked why a number of people were able to go there. How about me? They promised me that by tomorrow I can go," Aquino said.

Without giving details, Aquino said the impact of typhoon Yolanda on Tacloban was "massive."

"'Yong casualties, we think it will be substantially more. We are not prepared to say how much more at this point in time because that is also being collated," Aquino said.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) deputy director general John Andrews reported Saturday morning that about 100 people were presumed dead in Tacloban alone.

The National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is yet to release updates on casualties but government sources expect fatalities to go by the "hundreds."

Massive impact

Aquino and key Cabinet officials were at the NDRRMC for a closed-door meeting to discuss government response after Typhoon Yolanda.

The NDRRMC meeting held Saturday afternoon was attended by Cabinet officials and representatives of various agencies that will play roles in the disaster response.

Aquino said many houses in Roxas City, Kalibo and Tacloban that are made of light materials were totally damaged.

He said the Department of Public Works and Highways will coordinate with local government units so they can construct temporary shelters "in the form of bunkhouses."

Tacloban may have suffered the worst. "What happened in Tacloban was a little massive. Our C-130s and ships are working double time to bring in relief supplies with the help of the Red Cross. We are also bringing in personnel," he said.

Storm surges as high as 15 feet swelled the city when Yolanda made landfall early Friday morning. Around the same time, the province went off the grid.

It appeared Aquino was not satisfied with the readiness of Tacloban to mitigate the impact of Typhoon Yolanda.

"'Yong Tacloban, hesitant lang... Para bang hindi ganon ka prepared sabihin na natin compared to other areas. I would reserve comment at this point in time until we complete the data," Aquino said during the media briefing.

(Look at Tacloban. I'm just hesitant [to say it] but it seems it was not very prepared compared to other areas. I would reserve comment at this point in time until we complete the data.)

More data needed

Getting information is key, said Aquino. Initial reports may not be accurate, he said.

Aquino said the priority is to restore power and communications.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, who arrived in Cebu from Leyte on Saturday evening, told ABS-CBN News that an accurate casualty count cannot yet be made because many typhoon-hit areas are still cut off from all communication modes. (READ: 3 Cebu municipalities completely isolated)

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military are set to deploy more teams to boost search-and-rescue operations and restore order in the storm-hit areas, he said.

Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin will fly back to Leyte tomorrow, 6am.

Two Cabinet secretaries are now in Tacloban: Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman, and Enery Secretary Jericho Petilla.

Two C-130 planes flew to Tacloban Saturday morning to bring in communication equipment and power generators. A Command Center has been set up at the city police station using military radios.

It's urgent to provide the typhoon victims food, clothing, and shelter.

DPWH will oversee clearing operations to facilitate relief efforts while the Department of Social Welfare and Development will repackage relief goods.

He said the Department of Health is also assessing health risks and if there's a problem with water supply. — With a report from Pia Ranada/

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Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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