PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd has mobilized the 1.3-million-strong bureaucracy for the relief efforts for Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Thursday Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa has issued Memorandum Circular 57 directing all department secretaries and heads of agencies, government corporations and local government units (LGUs) “to mobilize their respective officials and employees to help in relief and rehabilitation efforts.”
A companion circular 61 directs the Department of Health (DOH) “to temporarily take over control of health and sanitation operations of LGUs affected by typhoon Yolanda.”
Coloma said the two orders effectively expand the government’s relief and rehabilitation operations for the affected areas.
Even before the orders were issued, “many government employees already volunteered to assist in the relief efforts. This issuance makes it possible for us to mobilize even more personnel for relief efforts,” Coloma said.
”The national government recognizes that the extent of this calamity has left many LGUs crippled as local government officials were victims of this typhoon as well. The
Department of Health has already activated all its resources to provide medical assistance the survivors of this tragedy,” he added.
Circular 57 gives agency heads and LGUs the discretion to exempt their officials and employees who will join the relief and rehabilitation effort from observing normal office hours or from performing their regular duties, and to determine the duration and extent of their participation.
Circular 61 puts health and sanitation services in typhoon-stricken areas under the direct DOH supervision and control.
Return to work
Also on Thursday, the Deparment of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) directed LGU employees and officials in regions devastated by the typhoon to return to work.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who is the vice chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), reminded local officials of their duties and responsibilities to their constituents.
Roxas said local officials should also come up with a rehabilitation plan in coordination with concerned government agencies to address the problems of housing and resettlement challenges.
Latest reports from the NDRRMC said the provinces of Leyte and Samar had the biggest number of damaged houses with 26,598 and the biggest number of typhoon casualties, 3,982.
Roxas said he expects local governments to convene their disaster management councils because the situation have started to improve and relief efforts have picked up pace.
“To the councilors who evacuated, I call on you to go back and help your constituents,” he said.
About 275,000 storm-affected families or 1.4 million individuals in Leyte and Samar have received food packs.
Roxas said government and volunteer workers were working round the clock to ensure a steady supply of relief goods.
The Philippine Navy’s newly acquired warship, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, would be sent to disaster-hit areas for her first official mission.
Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said the commissioning and send-off ceremonies for the Alcaraz will be held on Friday at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila.
“Immediately after the ceremonies, BRP Alcaraz will embark on her first ever mission, that is humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas,” Fabic said.
The ship will transport relief items from different government agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The Alcaraz will also ferry Navy personnel for clearing operations, medical missions, relief goods distribution, repair and rehabilitation and security augmentation.
It is the Navy’s second modern warship after BRP Gregorio del Pilar.
The deployment of the warship came as donors and volunteers complained of difficulty in reaching affected municipalities by land.
The Archdiocese of Jaro’s social action center under its director, Meliton Oso, said that the municipality of Carles can only be reached by motor boat.
Almost all of Carles, which has a population of 65,000, was destroyed by Yolanda.
Oso said there is also difficulty bringing aid to Concepcion town, noting that most villages in the area are “island barangays.”
The Archdiocese of Jaro has already sent relief goods to 11 municipalities in Iloilo, which were bought in the province using the P1million donated by the Caritas Manila.
The typhoon also ruined five churches and parishes in Iloilo, Oso said.
He said 87,851 houses were totally destroyed; and 82,367 partially damaged.
A total of 223 casualties were reported.
In Tacloban, Archdiocese of Palo Social Action Center director Alex Calumpiano said the typhoon survivors who chose not leave the city were recovering from the trauma from the calamity.
Calumpiano said that the typhoon had strengthened Taclobanons’ faith.
Establishments and gasoline stations have reopened in the city.