The police official who told the media at least 10,000 people were killed by Super typhoon Yolanda was replaced because he was stressed out.
On Thursday, Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria, regional commander of Eastern Visayas, was relieved and admonished by Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima.
At a press conference on Friday, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said Soria had been through so much stress and needed some rest.
Two days after Yolanda struck central Philippines, Soria said reporters he was told there were at least 10,000 deaths in Leyte, mostly because of the storm surge.
He said the typhoon destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path as it tore through Leyte province.
President Aquino 3rd, interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, several days later, said 10,000 deaths “is too much, adding that 2,000 to 2,500 “is the number we are working on.”
The President said the local officials did not have basis for their estimates.
“There was emotional drama involved with that particular estimate,” he said.
Soria was replaced as regional director by Chief Supt. Henry Losanes.
Valte downplayed criticisms the government was trying to suppress information regarding the death toll from Yolanda.
“In any calamity that we’ve faced, we’ve always been upfront about the procedure that the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) adopts when it comes to the identification of casualties,” she said
“So, no, there is no attempt to hide or to fudge any figures. Any assertion otherwise would just be pure speculations at this point,” Valte said.
Citing a report from the NDRRMC, Valte said the death toll stood at 2,360 on Friday morning.
The typhoon also left 3,853 people injured and 77 missing, she said.
The NDRRMC reported that Yolanda had affected 1,962,898 families or 9,073,804 people in 9,303 villages in 44 provinces.
It said 78,476 families or 380,552 people are staying at 1,028 evacuation centers.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE