MORE than a million people who were affected by monsoon rains that were enhanced by storm Maring (international codename: Trami) are now confronted with another problem—lack of food and potable water.
While only about 300,000 people were displaced by floods, relief agencies said food and water remain scarce in areas that have been badly hit by floods.
Sixteen people were confirmed killed but authorities warned the death toll was likely to rise with reports of more drowning from the provinces. Four persons remain missing.
About a third of Metro Manila, with a population of 12 million people, remained under water, with some areas enduring waist-deep floods, according to Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang.
While the crisis had eased since Tuesday, when more than half of the metropolis was submerged after being battered by heavier rains, Pang said many people were still suffering, with close to 300,000 people living in evacuation centers or seeking shelter with friends and relatives.
“The problem now is food, and a source of water for drinking. They also have to wash their clothes [while]some had their belongings washed away by the water,” Pang said.
One of the worst-affected areas was Cavite province, where residents in countless homes had to endure waist-high floodwaters.
“We are really pitiful here. People are still shocked. There is no electricity, they are looking for food and have to walk miles to get food,” Lino Ibadlit, a town councilor, said.
He said the local government had brought some food and other relief goods, but they were only suitable for one day.
“This will be a long day for all of us . . . the people have no choice but to wade through the water to look for food, but stores are either closed or have run out of supplies . . . We need canned goods, noodles, biscuits,” he stressed.
Worse, Ibadlit said health issues were also starting to become a concern, with children beginning to suffer from colds and skin rashes.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged people to continuously practice “bayanihan” to help thousands of storm victims.
“Let us console and help one another in little or big ways in order to lessen the pain of many amid this bad weather,” he said.
Former Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz also called on the people to help those in need.
“This is the perfect time where we can extend our generosity to those who are suffering, those who are hungry, and those who have nothing to wear,” Cruz said.
‘Do not worry’
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday began visiting areas affected by heavy rains and floods.
The President led the distribution of relief packs, consisting of canned goods, coffee, blanket, mat, rice and noodles to evacuees in Biñan and San Pedro towns in Laguna province and Mandaluyong City.
He assured the evacuees that the government has enough resources for relief and rehabilitation efforts.
“Your government is ready for this calamity,” Aquino said at the Dela Paz Elementary School in Biñan, Laguna, which was sheltering evacuees.
From Biñan, the President proceeded to the Landayan covered court in San Pedro, Laguna, then to Mandaluyong.
An estimated P7.9-million worth of relief goods have been distributed to the victims, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said.
1 million affected
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario said the floods affected 1,060,094 people, or 220,191 families, in 415 areas in 68 towns and cities in Regions 1 (Ilocos Region), 3 (Central Luzon), 4-A (Calabarzon), 4-B (Mimaropa) and Metro Manila.
Del Rosario said 29,041 families were staying at evacuation centers.
Damage to infrastructure was placed at P56.582 and P10.181 million in agriculture.
The NDRRMC said at least 88 roads in Ilocos, Central and Southern Luzon, Metro Manila and Cordillera were still impassable while at least 18 power interruptions were reported in Southern Luzon.
More local governments have declared a state of calamity. Among them are the provinces of Cavite and Laguna; Narvacan, Ilocos Sur; Masantol and Macabebe in Bataan; San Fernando City and the towns of Minalin and Guagua, all in Pampanga.
Santa Barbara in Pangasinan also declared a state of calamity after Barangays Alibago, Dolongue, Malanay, Primicias, Songquil, Tebag East, Tuliao, Banaoang, Erfe, Minien West, Nilombot and Tebag West were submerged.
Also under state of calamity are Pateros and the cities of Pasay and Parañaque, all are in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Mayor Antonino Calixto of Pasay said the city council convened a special session on Wednesday to declare the state of calamity.
Mayor Edwin Olivarez of Parañaque said the city sustained infrastructure and property damage from floods.
With the exit of storm Maring, most of the floods in Metro Manila subsided on Wednesday.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said only parts of the cities of Manila and Pasay remained submerged.
Tolentino said Lagusnilad underpass, Taft-Remedios, Taft-Ocampo, Taft-Quirino, Otis-Unilever, Kalaw-Taft, Faura-Taft, Ayala Boulevard, San Marcelino in Manila and Barangays 180, 181, 182 and 197 in Pasay were still flooded.
He said the local governments of Makati and Taguig have reported that floodwaters in several areas in their jurisdiction have receded.
Based on the monitoring of MMDA’s Flood Control and Information Center (FCIC) as of 12 p.m., the entire stretch of EDSA along with C-5, Marcos Highway, Roxas Boulevard, Airport Road and España are passable to all types of vehicles.
The center said MIA-Domestic Road and MIA-Coastal Road were still gutter-deep in floodwaters but passable to all types of vehicles.
Tolentino said eight pumping trucks from the MMDA along with those from Manila Water Co. and Maynilad were help pump floodwaters out of Lagusnilad.
He said it might take until Thursday to clear the underpass since floodwaters from the nearby Intramuros Golf Course had flowed into it.
He said based on their estimates the underpass is under 500,000 liters of water.
The MMDA has a pumping station in the area, but it was overwhelmed by the volume of water in the past few days.
As of Wednesday noon, the entire stretch of EDSA along with C-5, Marcos Highway, Roxas Boulevard, Airport Road and España were passable to all types of vehicles.
Makati, Malabon and Parañaque on Wednesday announced that all schools will be closed until Friday.
Valenzuela also suspended classes from preschool to high school, both public and private, until Friday. So did the Valenzuela Polytechnic University and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela.
Mandaluyong canceled classes from preschool to high school but only for today.
In Muntinlupa City, classes in elementary and high school were suspended until Friday while in Pateros, preschool to high school public schools were closed until Friday.
Other schools that suspended classes today include Asia Pacific College, St. Scholastica’s College-Manila (office work to resume) and Saint Francis of Assisi College (all levels in all campuses).
The Far Eastern University (FEU) in Manila, FEU Makati and FEU East Asia College suspended classes today, but class suspension in Makati will be until Friday and La Salle Greenhills canceled classes up to high school.
Classes in Laguna province and San Mateo, Rizal, were also suspended until Friday.
In Cavite, classes in all levels, public and private are suspended on Thursday.
Classes in Metro Manila will reopen today even in schools being used as shelter for flood evacuees, Luz Almeda, Department of Education-National Capital Region (DepEd-NCR) director, said Wednesday.
“The evacuees can transfer to open spaces. They can go to the covered court. They can stay even if there are classes,” Almeda added.
She said teachers can still use the classrooms “because evacuees usually leave during the day and stay only during night time.”
Also on Wednesday, the Armed Forces placed on alert all of its forces in disaster-stricken areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, according to the AFP information chief, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.
The AFP’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) and the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTFNCR) had deployed trucks and heavy lift vehicles, helicopters and other support vehicles for rescue and evacuation in the affected areas, Zagala said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government authorities were coordinating for disaster relief operations, PNP Public Information chief, Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac said.
Police assistant desks were set up in over 200 evacuation centers in the metropolis, Sindac said.
Director Lina Sarmiento of the PNP’s Directorate for Police Community Relations (DPCR) said more than 1,000 police personnel were sent to assist communities along the banks of Marikina River and other flood-prone areas in Metro Manila.
Vice President Jejomar Binay sent relief teams to Montalban, Parañaque City, Obando and the Santo Domingo Church and Santa Mesa in Quezon City.
He said 1,000 bags of relief goods were each released to victims in Montalban, Parañaque and Obando, while 500 bags were given to the evacuees in Santa Mesa, and to those camped in Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.
Binay also visited Zambales and Casiguran, Aurora, to assess the storm damage.
The United States announced it will provide $800,000- (P34.4-million) worth of assistance for the victims of the monsoon floods.
Marie Harf, the US deputy press secretary, said in a statement that the assistance will be coursed through the US Agency for International Development’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (Usaid/OFDA).
Harf said $300,000 will go to emergency non-food assistance and $500,000 to warehousing and logistics support.
In his Twitter account, outgoing US Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas Jr. sent his condolences to the Filipino people but lauded the spirit that enables the public to extend help to others.
The US government has already given an initial P24.5 million to the flood victims thought the World Food Program US.
The US Embassy in Manila reopens today after being closed since Monday.
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office on Wednesday said it will pay for the medical bills of flood victims being treated in government hospitals.
PCSO Chairman Margarita Juico said the agency is extending help to the flood victims through its Quick Response Program.
Juico said PCSO branch office heads and personnel were coordinating with local government hospitals and clinics in areas affected by the monsoon floods to expedite that assistance.
Jose Ferdinand Rojas 2nd, PCSO general manager, said that apart from hospital assistance the PCSO will distribute Family Emergency Medicine (FEM) kits and rice in evacuation centers.
In Congress, the passage of the legislated P125 daily across-the-board salary increase in the private sector has been pushed anew in the wake of the latest disaster.
Representatives Fernando Hicap of Anakpawis, Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus of Gabriela, Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Terry Ridon of Kabataan made the proposal in House Bill 253.
The daily minimum wage for the non-agricultural sector ranges from P205 to P456, depending on regions where the workers are based. As for the agricultural sector, the daily minimum wage is pegged at P205 to P419, also depending on regions where workers are based.
WITH REPORTS FROM BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON, NEIL A. ALCOBER, JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO AND LLANESCA T. PANTI