It has been exactly a week since Super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) hit the Visayas region.
Now, President Benigno Aquino 3rd is expected to return to the devastated city of Tacloban to ensure that affected families are getting food and other relief assistance.
Aquino has been on the defensive over his handling of the storm given warnings of its projected strength and the risk of a storm surge, and now the pace of relief efforts.
The President said the government is “doing all it can” to hasten the delivery of relief aid to the affected families and assure that they are not alone.
“Kailangan talagang maramdaman ng mga kababayan natin na hindi sila napabayaan para humupa ang tensyon, at hindi maging desperado ang mga tao [We have to make people feel they are not abandoned, so the tension will go down and they will not turn desperate],” he noted
The Chief Executive has issued a memorandum order designating four cabinet secretaries as coordinators for the relief and recovery efforts.
In a Memorandum Order No. 60 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Aquino designated Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima as the overall coordinator for the preparation of all relief packs/goods prior to their distribution to the affected localities.
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director-General Joel Villanueva was designated as co-coordinator to assist Purisima in the said activities.
The President also named Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya as coordinator for all transportation and other logistical needs in connection with the distribution of relief packs/goods.
He likewise assigned Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to the Volunteer and Assistance Coordination.
Baldoz will refer offers of donation and other assistance to concerned implementing agencies. She will also monitor the actions that are taking place, report the benefits and services delivered to typhoon victims and check on the Call Center Operations through the facilities of Air 21 in NAIA 2 complex.
The President also ordered all other departments, agencies, bureaus, and offices of the government to coordinate with and assist the designated officials on any matter relating to their activities.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd said that the government has organized a “systemic” approach in relief operations.
He noted that the government’s priorities right now are food and water delivery, cadaver recovery, the maintenance of law and order, and the restoration of some of the government’s services.
In Tacloban, he said that 80 out of 138 barangays were able to receive assistance from the government, while in Eastern Samar, the government has reached one-third of all the affected areas.
He also reported that many vehicles intended for logistics operations will reach Leyte and Samar in the next coming days to augment the ongoing relief efforts.
He said that 10 trucks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are expected to arrive in Tacloban by lunch time on Friday. There will be an additional 20 trucks coming in and are already on their way here.
Aside from the trucks, Roxas said that that the DOTC is sending a cargo vessel containing five-ton trucks, which could carry heavy load.
He said that there are also payloaders and 20 additional trucks that are coming in from Mindanao.
Each truck has the capability to deliver cargo and equipment in different towns affected by typhoon, he added. Catherine S. Valente