PALACE: P-NOY FOCUSED ON DIRECTING RELIEF OPERATIONS

“The President is focused on directing operations through the cabinet, through the structure of the NDRMMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council). He is focused on ensuring the return to normalcy of all facilities and preparing for the transition to rehabilitation,” Coloma said in a Palace press briefing. The President is assisted by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras.

ALSO: KORINA SANCHEZ REPORTS FROM ORMOC; ANDERSON COOPER STILL IN TACLOBAN

A day after she was lambasted in social media for criticizing CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, Manila-based celebrity broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez went to Leyte on Thursday to report on the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).

ALSO: ANDERSON COOPER'S REPORT IRKS KORINA

The report apparently irked local TV anchor-commentator Korina Sanchez. In her early morning radio show, she was quoted as saying: “Itong si Anderson Cooper, sabi wala daw government presence sa Tacloban. Mukhang hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya. (This Anderson Cooper, he said there is no government presence in Tacloban. It seems he doesn’t know what he is saying.) PHNO: KORINA SANCHES IS MRS. MAR ROXAS

ALSO: RIGOBERTO TIGLAO: WHERE IS THE MILITARY?

It had to take CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, to tell us that in Japan when the tsunamis hit, it was the Japanese military, the Japan Self Defense Forces that was swiftly at the airports nearest the devastated areas the day after, which set up feeding centers for the victims, and methodically divided the area into grids so that a systematic removal of the corpses was done. Nothing like that in Tacloban after five days, Cooper said. In the US after Katrina, Bush sent in the National Guards, instead of SWAT teams, which is in our case are the PNP Special Action Forces sent to secure Tacloban.


PALACE: P-NOY FOCUSED ON DIRECTING RELIEF OPERATIONS

MANILA, NOVEMBER 14, 2013 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Genalyn D. Kabiling and Ellalyn B. De Vera – It’s “all hands on deck” with President Aquino supervising all relief and rehabilitation operations in typhoon-hit areas, and Cabinet members implementing their respective assignments, according to Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

He said the President has already directed the entire Cabinet to coordinate all efforts of various government agencies “to improve and hasten the delivery of relief aid” to the affected communities.

The statement was made in the wake of many critical remarks on the government’s apparent slow and disorganized disaster response made by local and foreign reporters and on social media.

“The President is focused on directing operations through the cabinet, through the structure of the NDRMMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council). He is focused on ensuring the return to normalcy of all facilities and preparing for the transition to rehabilitation,” Coloma said in a Palace press briefing.

The President is assisted by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras.

Coloma explained that the NDRRMC provides the comprehensive multi-sectoral, inter-agency and community-based approach to disaster risk reduction and management.

All Cabinet secretaries also have a “comprehensive involvement” in disaster response, from relief aid, logistics, security, to transportation, according to Coloma.

Some Difficulties

Coloma, meantime, said the government is open to criticisms and suggestions on how to enhance its disaster relief operations. “Each experience serves as a bridge for a more organized and systematic response in the future,” he said.

Coloma admitted that the government encountered some difficulties in bringing aid to the victims due to impassable roads and logistical problems.

He insisted that the situation has improved six days after the typhoon battered several areas in the Visayas. He cited the re-opening of national roads in Regions VI, VII and VIII and restoration of communication lines in some calamity areas.

Relief Operations

Coloma said the government plans to bring relief goods to 40 municipalities in Leyte. An additional repacking center in Cebu has been opened to hasten the distribution of relief goods.

He said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Joel Villanueva were designated “logistics coordinators” in the relief repacking center in Pasay City and Cebu, respectively.

P51.2M Assistance

So far, the government has also extended P51.2 million worth of relief assistance to calamity victims.

“We started with search and rescue. We are now on the relief operations. We want to hasten the transition to rehabilitation,” Coloma said.

Gov’t Was Prepared

Asked if the government prepared for the worst-case scenario of Yolanda, Coloma said the government anticipated “possible scenarios,” including the storm surge, prior to the onslaught of the typhoon.

“So in terms of preparation, in terms of emergency alert, we can say that the government carried out its appropriate and lawful mandate,” he said.

DSWD Secretary Speaks

Criticisms have been hurled against the government, most of it saying the typhoon relief efforts are very slow and not properly planned, but Social Welfare and Secretary Corazon Soliman said it was “not easy and can be disheartening” and that “patience should be stretched.”

She had stayed in Tacloban City for four days and was an eyewitness to the devastation and chaos in the city.

Soliman said government officials – led by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and herself – had to “fill in the gap first because the first responders were also victims.”

“Most of the employees from the local government units did not report to work because they were looking for their loved ones or were in shock,” she said.

“We had to fill in the gap first because the first responders were also victims. Local officials also suffered the same fate,” she added.

60,607 Food Packs

Soliman said relief operations for victims of Yolanda is moving at a faster pace with roads and thoroughfares already open and passable.

At present, some 60,607 food packs have been delivered, of which 16,344 went to Guiuan relief hub for victims from Eastern Samar, while 44,263 were for the hub in Tacloban.

DSWD started delivering 40 metric tons (MT) of High Energy Biscuits from the World Food Programme (WFP).

Two water filtration plants are also operational with a capacity of 6,000 liters per hour.

60,000 Liters of Water

So far, about 15,000 gallon or 60,000 liters have been processed and already distributed by eight tanks of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

Around 35,505 water bottles of 500 ml each, 35,210 one-liter bottles, and 168 of five-gallon containers were also distributed in Tacloban City.

45,000 Sacks of Rice

Repacking of 45,000 sacks of rice donated by WFP is ongoing at the warehouse of the National Food Authority (NFA). These will be distributed to families in Tacloban and Guiuan.

The target for the Tacloban hub is to repack 15,000-20,000 family food packs per day with the help of some 120 volunteers. The volunteers will be given food-for-work comprising three kilograms of rice per four hours of work.

Likewise, around 5,000 tents from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were expected to have arrive last Wednesday. About 100 tons of relief goods will also be shipped by three C130 of Taiwan Airforce.

A Philam Life truck loaded with 100 sacks of food packs is also on its way to the city, while seven Philpost trucks carrying 488 sacks or 4,880 food packs are on their way to Basey, Samar.

Some 1,400 food packs were also loaded to MV Kapitan Felix Oca for delivery to Tacloban.

Focus On Helping

Instead of criticizing the government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts to undermine President Aquino, critics should focus on providing immediate relief for typhoon survivors, Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas said yesterday.

“We should unite and support our government. This is not the time for fault-finding,” Trenas said.

Unfair

The Aquino government drew flak from CNN’s Anderson Cooper who reported the government’s failure to address the helpless situation in Tacloban City.

Gazmin explained that few days before Yolanda struck, all the information about the super typhoon have already been communicated down to the local government units, most of them responding through forced evacuations, especially those in coastal areas.

In fact, he said he and Roxas were even in Tacloban City the day before the onslaught of the weather disturbance, asking for updates and directing the course of actions for the typhoon.

“The relief goods came immediately after the typhoon, you call that slow?” asked Gazmin.

“That’s really unfair,” he added, reacting to the reports of slow government response.

First Responders Affected

Under the government’s disaster response system, the local government units are designated as first responders to disaster management and response, what with the existing of disaster management councils down to the city and municipality levels. (With reports from Charissa M. Luci and Aaron B. Recuenco)

NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario said that that what even made it worse is when these first responders were virtually wiped out since even members of the local government units, police and military forces and members of the local disaster councils were themselves victims of the devastation.

In fact, it was learned that only a handful of policemen out of the hundreds of policemen assigned in Samar and Leyte provinces reported for duty a few days after the onslaught.

Even the mayor of Tacloban City, Alfred Romualdez, and his family almost died when their house was battered by storm surge and strong winds. (With reports from Charissa M. Luci and Aaron B. Recuenco)

FROM THE INQUIRER

Korina Sanchez reports from Ormoc, Anderson Cooper still in Tacloban By Totel V. de Jesus INQUIRER.net November 15, 2013 | 4:14 am


KORINA SANCHES-ROXAS & ANDERSON COOPER

MANILA, Philippines—A day after she was lambasted in social media for criticizing CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, Manila-based celebrity broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez went to Leyte on Thursday to report on the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).

In her daily primetime newscast, Sanchez made an on-the-spot report in Ormoc City, which is about 105 kilometers away from Tacloban City, considered the “ground zero” of the typhoon’s wrath.

Also on Thursday, Cooper aired his latest report on the typhoon victims focusing on the sick and wounded recuperating in make-shift hospitals in Tacloban City. He interviewed doctors and patients who are reportedly still lacking in food and water.

Sanchez earned the ire of netizens on Wednesday when she criticized Cooper and his initial report on the typhoon victims, highlighting the slow response of the Philippine government in collecting the rotting corpses on the streets and giving relief goods to those trapped in what was considered “no man’s land.”

In her early morning radio show, Sanchez was quoted as saying that Cooper doesn’t know what he’s talking about because the government’s assistance was present.

For that, Sanchez was pilloried by netizens, saying she had no right in disputing Cooper’s news report because she’s in the air-conditioned newsroom in her home studio making comments while Cooper was reporting from Tacloban.

The American broadcast journalist hosts the eponymous “Anderson Cooper 360”.

Sanchez is co-host of a daily primetime news broadcast of a major TV network, where she also hosts a Sunday night lifestyle public affairs program called “Balitang K.”

Meanwhile, in an INQUIRER story Friday, it was reported that local and foreign journalists earned the ire of some typhoon survivors for the “special treatment” given to them by the government.

On the ground while covering stories, a team from CNN was singled out for reportedly getting “babysitter-like assistants” from an agency under the Office of the President.

Anderson Cooper’s report irks Korina Sanchez November 14, 2013 | 4:17 am
2513 45.4K 36.9K

MANILA, Philippines—The CNN report on the victims of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” by its acclaimed reporter, Anderson Cooper, drew positive reactions on social media, saying it’s simple portrayal of the aftermath showed the real miserable situation of what was considered “ground zero” of the devastation.

Aired on Wednesday (Manila time), the report had Anderson describing the situation at the Tacloban airport, where many evacuees keep on waiting for relief goods and hoping they could board the military C130 planes to get them out of the city.

The report apparently irked local TV anchor-commentator Korina Sanchez. In her early morning radio show, she was quoted as saying: “Itong si Anderson Cooper, sabi wala daw government presence sa Tacloban. Mukhang hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya. (This Anderson Cooper, he said there is no government presence in Tacloban. It seems he doesn’t know what he is saying.)

Sanchez reaction was lambasted by netizens, saying she doesn’t have the right to criticize Cooper or his report because she’s only doing an anchor’s job, comfortably in the air-conditioned newsroom. Whereas Cooper is reporting live on the scene.

Others can’t help but associate her being the wife of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who reportedly said to the media that the situation in Tacloban and nearby areas is now under control.

This proved to be contrary to what Cooper had reported the same day.

In the said report, Cooper interviewed a woman he met on the street. A certain Jovelyn Taniego had lost her husband and six children during the storm surge. She was the only one in her family who survived. She has found the bodies of her husband and three of her six children. With no place to bury, she had no choice but to leave them on the ground.

She showed Cooper their rotting corpses she covered with leaves, torn clothes and wood she found on the street as she waits for help. As for her other three children, she told Cooper she’s lost hope in finding them alive.

Asked by Cooper where she’s going to spend the night, Taniego said, “In the street. I [really] don’t know where to go.”

Another victim Cooper interviewed was Juanito Martinez, who lost his wife and two children. Cooper let Martinez use his satellite phone to call his mother in Manila. Martinez cried as he told her what happened to his family.

In a later report, Cooper said it’s already the fifth day after the super typhoon struck Tacloban and he thought he’s already late. He said he expected at least a feeding center where survivors could line up but they are still at a loss where to find the next day’s meal.

Cooper summarized his report with the phase, “Here, misery is beyond meaning.”

In the same day, he tweeted via his official account, Anderson Cooper 360° ‏@AC360:

“Everywhere you go you find people searching for their lost loved ones” @andersoncooper in #Tacloban. #AC360
Among the netizens who reacted was former Makati Representative Teodoro “Teddy” Locsin Jr. i@teddyboylocsin.

Also a noted TV-radio commentator-newspaper columnist-editorial writer, Locsin tweeted: “Good news. Korina said Anderson Cooper does not know what he is talking about. She just guaranteed he will stay for one month.”

In another tweet, Locsin said, “Thank you Anderson Cooper for existing. Without you we would be in dreamland.”


RIGOBERTO TIGLAO: FROM MANILA TIMES

Military should be in charge November 14, 2013 9:50 pm rigoberto tiglao
by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

Officials of this bungling government don’t even know who’s in charge.

Asked in a press briefing the other day who is in charge of the gargantuan, urgent task of saving 500,000 Leyteños from starvation, disease, and deadly anarchy, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras like a true sycophant said: “The one calling the shots is actually the President and the Cabinet members.”

Almendras should have been kept, as he had been during calmer periods, in the background. Does he mean that after the president, it is every Cabinet member on his own in this emergency? Or maybe after enjoying the briefings he’s been giving media, he in effect is saying that since he is Cabinet Secretary, he is in charge?

Then, at a recent press briefing of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC)—its executive director Eduardo del Rosario was similarly asked who’s in charge.

“Not me,” Del Rosario said, in his case toadying up to his immediate superiors: “It’s the Executive Secretary (Paquito Ochoa), ably assisted by Secretary (to the Cabinet Rene) Almendras.” Almendras in fact in his lengthy press briefings referred to the NDRRMC as if he were the one calling the shots there.

Defense Secretary Gazmin, left: He’s in charge, or supposed to be; right, DND website totally oblivious to ‘Yolanda’ super-disaster.

Defense Secretary Gazmin, left: He’s in charge, or supposed to be; right, DND website totally oblivious to ‘Yolanda’ super-disaster.

But Interior Secretary Mar Roxas likely fumed at Almendras and del Rosario. Why, he is in charge, going by his recent briefings to media in Tacloban.

Please read the disaster-response law

Aquino’s officials don’t seem to have even bothered to read the law that created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and provided a detailed how-to for government’s to response to a disaster.

The law is Republic Act No. 10121 of May 27, 2010, the last law passed during the term of President Arroyo, who pushed for its enactment after the devastation of Typhoon Ondoy, so that her successors would have a detailed framework and procedures for confronting disaster and mitigating its impact on the population.

Aquino though has thrown that law into the dustbin.

Under the law, the NDRRMC consists not only of several department secretaries and ranking security officials but also key representatives of local governments, among them the presidents of the Union of Local Authorities, the League of Provinces, and the League of Municipalities. It even has one representative from the private sector, and included the Secretary General of the Philippine National Red Cross.

Who heads the NDRRMC, and therefore in charge of all operations for the Yolanda-created disaster? Under the law, the NDRMMC’s chair is somebody neither Almendras nor its executive director thought of as being in charge: the Secretary of National Defense, Voltaire Gazmin.

But we’ve not heard anything though from Gazmin before and after Yolanda struck, other than the report that he bunkered with Mar Roxas in a Tacloban airport building at the height of the typhoon.

There is an important reason why the law designated the defense secretary as the NDRRMC chair. Next after the president, he has command—through the Armed Forces Chief of Staff—of the only national organizations that have the resources and organizational discipline to deal with emergencies created by national disasters.

In countries all over the world, and under all previous administrations, it is the military that is the vanguard in rescue operations which secures a devastated area and orderly delivering food and water to victims.

If a military man were in charge of operations for Tacloban, his first instinct would be the security of the survivors. In our case, that looters and brigands emerged in Tacloban seemed to be a shock to whoever was in charge. Disaster relief is essentially a matter of logistics, which of course, next to combat, is the military’s expertise.

In disasters during past administrations, there were generals and colonels on the ground, assuring the stunned populace: “We are here. We are in control.” None of that in Tacloban. Instead you see only Mar Roxas, in a ruffled dirtied shirt, appearing as stunned as everyone else.

Where’s the military?

It had to take CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, to tell us that in Japan when the tsunamis hit, it was the Japanese military, the Japan Self Defense Forces that was swiftly at the airports nearest the devastated areas the day after, which set up feeding centers for the victims, and methodically divided the area into grids so that a systematic removal of the corpses was done.

Nothing like that in Tacloban after five days, Cooper said. In the US after Katrina, Bush sent in the National Guards, instead of SWAT teams, which is in our case are the PNP Special Action Forces sent to secure Tacloban.

Trying to sound witty when asked by reporters why corpses lining up Tacloban streets weren’t being collected, Cabinet secretary Almendras replied: “Hands,” explaining that there weren’t enough people to collect the bodies.

Somebody please tell him that we have a 220,000 pairs of hands available, and they are in the armed forces, and another 270,000 in the reserve corps.

Where has our military been during this crisis?

Commendable of course has been the Air Force with its two C-130s (the third is under repair) ferrying supplies, officials, and platoons of police and army personnel to Tacloban and bringing refugees to Manila. It has also deployed six scout helicopters in Leyte, providing officials—and media—a fantastic bird’s eye views of the disaster area.

The biggest Army contingent has been the engineering battalion that has been clearing roads together with their escorts. In short, our military in devastated Leyte consist of pilots and road works laborers.

How many soldiers deployed for disaster?

Our military has one of the biggest budgets of P80 billion, with over 220,000 soldiers and Marines in eleven divisions. How many have been deployed in the devastated areas of Leyte, including Tacloban?

According to Malacañang’s “Consolidated report on government actions on typhoon Yolanda, November 13, 2013 (12:00 p.m.)”: 1,447. The AFP reported that an engineering battalion and a Special Forces battalion to provide it security were deployed in Leyte. That means the military practically has had minimal presence in terms of securing the population and undertaking relief and rescue operations.

No wonder the website of the DND—the lead agency for disaster response—seems to be completely oblivious that a disaster has struck the country, its worst ever.

It was the PNP’s Special Action Force of 600 men that were ordered to secure Tacloban and three other devastated municipalities. A battalion of policemen to secure a population of at least 500,000 in a situation where death, hunger, and devastation made the area ripe for anarchy?

No wonder looters and brigands have made the area a no-man’s land.

For this year, the DND had been even allocated nearly P1 billion of the Calamity Fund’s “Quick Response Fund”, making the agency with the biggest allocation of such emergency funds.

Have all these already been spent, which explains why Gazmin isn’t mobilizing the military to save 500,000 Leyteños?
Somebody should explain to Gazmin the concept of “civil defense”—defending the population from and securing their safety in major threats to their lives and property—is along with “external defense”, the most important tasks of the national defense department, here and in any country in the world.

No wonder CNN’s Cooper concluded from what he saw in Tacloban: “There is no leader, no government, no civil defense in the Philippines.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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