• Habagat death toll rises to 7, rains displace 155,000 people

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    DISASTER officials on Tuesday said two more people died as a result of monsoon rains, bringing the death toll to seven since last week.

    The number of people displaced by heavy rains and flooding in Metro Manila, Luzon and parts of the Visayas also rose to nearly 155,000, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported.

    Six people were injured, while search-and-rescue teams were looking for seven people reported missing at the height of heavy rains in Marinduque and Quezon provinces.

    Benedicto Brasileño, 68, drowned in Barangay Canauillian, Janiuay, Iloilo, while Jonel Fernandez, 11, was found dead at a pumping station in Nagtahan, Manila.

    On Saturday, three people including Mary Hope Beriña, 14 and Argilyn Joyce Gonzales, 16, were killed when a
    firewall collapsed at Oroquieta Street in Santa Cruz, Manila. Archie Contado, 27, drowned when the creek at Barangay Mariana, in Quezon City swelled.

    In Brooke’s Point, Palawan, an unidentified fisherman died after sailing despite rough seas.

    The council said 32,220 families composed of 154,988 persons were affected by “habagat,” or the southwest monsoon, in the Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Western Visayas and Metro Manila.

    A total of 5,037 families or 24,024 people were still in evacuation centers. In Bulacan and Pampanga, 47 villages were still flooded, the council reported.

    “Some areas in the provinces of Pangasinan, Bataan, Bulacan and Pampanga and some parts of Metro Manila experienced flooding measuring up to six feet,” the NDRRMC report said.

    Five of the six people reported injured were hurt by the collapsed firewall in Santa Cruz, Manila. One person in Taytay, Rizal was hit by falling rocks.

    Two fishermen, one from Brgy. Bognuyan in Gasan, Marinduque and one from Brgy. Calasagen in Brooke’s Point, Palawan, were among those reported missing.

    Twelve roads were not passable in the provinces of Benguet, Upper Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Batangas, Pangasinan, Bulacan and Pampanga as a result of flooding or landslides.

    A total of 43 houses were damaged, 16 of them destroyed due to flooding in Bataan, Negros Occidental and Iloilo and due to landslides in San Mateo, Rizal.

    Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, NDRRMC executive director and administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said in a report that P2.9 million worth of relief assistance had been provided to affected families in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Negros Island.

    The Department of Health, meanwhile, pre-positioned P14.7 million worth of drugs, medical supplies and equipment in the affected areas. The Health Service of the Philippine National Police was asked to assist health officials upon request.

    ‘No need for calamity declaration’
    In a news conference, Jalad said the situation was still manageable and there was “no need to declare a state of calamity.”

    During an aerial inspection of the National Capital Region, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his order to pre-position assets and relief goods for quick response, Jalad said.

    “[What the President wants is] quick reaction, continue preparations and pre-positioning of assets and relief goods by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. He is satisfied [with preparations for now],” Jalad added.

    Duterte, however, had to cancel his visit to the First Scout Ranger Regiment Headquarters at Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan on Tuesday due to bad weather.

    The President was scheduled to meet with top military officials for a briefing and to talk to the troops.

    The weather bureau said monsoon rains could still trigger flashfloods and landslides in the Ilocos region and the provinces of Benguet, Zambales, Bataan, Tarlac and Pampanga today.

    Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and thunderstorms are expected over Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, while partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms are experienced over the rest of the country.

    FERNAN MARASIGAN WITH PNA, CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND TIFFANY MENDEZ, TMTC TRAINEE

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