PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday reprimanded Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and officials of the Energy department and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for their failure to fully restore power in areas in Mindanao hit by Typhoon Pablo more than a year ago.
The President vented his ire during his speech in Cateel town in Davao Oriental, which was among the hardest-hit by the typhoon in December 2012.
“It is a fact and they know it that I rarely lose patience. They shouldn’t dare,” Aquino said to the delight of his cheering audience.
He said he was surprised to learn that there were still places in Cateel that had no electricity.
“I just spoke with Secretary Abad, I also called up [Energy] Secretary [Jericho] Petilla and our NEA Administrator [Edita Bueno]. I called them because I was shocked to learn that there are still areas here that have no power. They [responded], saying there is a pending request from NEA [but]the DBM said they don’t have the request,” the President said.
Aquino blew his top when none of the officials could give him a definitive answer regarding his query.
“Where is the request? Before I leave Cateel I need a straight answer,” he told the officials.
Pablo was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit Mindanao, with 280-kilometer per hour winds.
After hitting Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces, it crossed the southern and central parts of the region, cutting power in two provinces and triggering landslides. More than 170,000 people fled to evacuation centers.
The towns of Boston, Cateel and Banganga in Davao Oriental bore the brunt of the typhoon’s fury. New Bataan in Compostela Valley recorded the highest deaths.
Pablo left 1,300 people either dead or missing and is estimated to have caused about P37 billion in damages to infrastructure and agriculture.
Cateel was the President’s first stop in an inspection tour of the disaster-stricken areas in the Visayas and Mindanao. Aquino will next fly to Bohol, Cebu, Leyte and Eastern Samar.
In Cateel, the President said he decided to commemorate the EDSA People Power anniversary outside Metro Manila by checking on cities and municipalities hit by calamities.
“Because we believe in downfall-and-recovery for every initiative to ensure that no one is left behind as we tread the straight path. We live by the true spirit of People Power,” Aquino said.