Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay visited Ronda, Dumanjug and Sibonga and Carcar City, all in southern Cebu, on Sunday to offer his condolences and hand over cash assistance and relief goods to the families affected by tropical depression Seniang (international name Jangmi).
At least 17 individuals died in Cebu Province when Tropical Storm Seniang hit the southern towns on December 30.
“Nakikiramay po kami sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Seniang at narito po kami ngayon para ipadama sa ating mga kababayan na handang tumulong ang pamahalaan [We are one with you in your grief. We are here to let you know that the government is ready to help],” Binay said.
Binay said the Office of the Vice President (OVP) distributed 1,500 relief bags each to the municipalities of Ronda, Dumanjug, Sibonga, and Carcar.
In Ronda, where at least seven people were reported dead, Binay distributed relief goods assisted by Mayor Mariano Blanco 3rd and the municipal and village officials.
Both Ronda and Dumanjug towns are now under a state of calamity.
Speaking at the balcony of the Ronda Municipal Hall, Binay said he wanted to assess the situation directly.
“I can firmly determine what action I am going to take if I have first-hand information about what happened. As the second highest official of our country, I sympathize with your suffering,” Binay said.
He expressed his sympathy for the family of Junardo Bajenting of Barangay Tupas, Ronda, who lost many members when a flood swept away their two-storey house.
He also gave financial assistance to Magdalena Batomalaque, who lost four members of her family during the flood.
Binay ordered his staff in the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to look for funds to help rebuild the 48 houses which were washed away and some 102 houses which were heavily damaged by the flood in Ronda.
“Don’t lose hope. Remember that life must go on. Coordinate with your mayor, who is a Boy Scout like me,” he told the Ronda crowd.
From Ronda, Binay went to Dumanjug town where he was welcomed by Mayor Nelson Garcia and the mayor’s sister, Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu, 3rd District).
Binay joined the boodle-style lunch in the Dumanjug public market with dozens of residents. In Ronda, he had camote and banana.
He later distributed relief goods to Seniang survivors gathered at the Dumanjug gymnasium.
Binay also visited Sibonga town where Mayor Lionel Bacaltos and other local officials joined him in going to the Catholic church where the late Macaria Revilla, 66, of Barangay Tubod, Sibonga was brought for a final blessing before burial.
He distributed relief goods to Seniang survivors before proceeding to a meeting with Bacaltos and other municipal officials.
In Carcar City, Binay was met by Vice Mayor Patrick Barcenas and Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President Mercy Apura.
“I came here today to help you. You know, you will only know who your true friends are in times of crisis and calamities,” Binay said.