President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Sunday traveled to typhoon-hit areas in Eastern Visayas to check the progress of government relief operations there.
Accompanied by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Speaker Sonny Belmonte, the President arrived at around 11 a.m. in Guiuan, Eastern Samar where Typhoon Yolanda made its first landfall on November 8.
The President commended local officials for their efficient disaster mitigation and response.
Guiuan Mayor Christopher Gonzales said at least 99 people were killed in his town while 16 others still missing.
Aquino said the death toll was lower in Guiuan because the people had done their best to prepare for Yolanda’s onslaught.
”The ones ready will get aid first,” he said.
The damage in Guiuan to infrastructure, agriculture, and private property is estimated at P7.17 billion.
The President again took to task some local officials for being not being prepared for the disaster.
”As your President, I have no right to get angry. I’ll just keep my anger to myself,” he said as he urged the officials to work with the national government to speed up the relief and rehabilitation efforts.
”If you initiate rebuilding in your areas, the process will be faster,” Aquino told them.
The President earlier admitted that much of the provincial government was paralyzed because its members were attending to their own families’ safety.
He said the national government had to step in to continue the delivery of vital government services, especially during a calamity.
”The local government unit, acting as first responders, failed to respond appropriately—then there was that breakdown. People became desperate, and that’s why we are trying to fast track the situation where the national government takes over local government functions,” he said.
”The national government did not just have to augment what the local government could do, but also replace a lot of personnel with personnel from other regions, to take care of the government’s vital functions,” Aquino added.
From Guiuan, the President proceeded to Tacloban City, his second visit since Yolanda hit on November 8.
Roxas reported that all 40 municipalities of Leyte were now linked to the government’s main supply routes, making it possible for a “conveyor belt of food supply” to reach even the farthest towns.
Hilongos and Palompon, the two towns previously not reached by relief goods, finally established contact with the government’s logistics hub in Ormoc City on Saturday. Officials of the two towns brought food packs and other relief items back to their constituents.
“We can now confirm that relief goods have reach all the municipalities of Leyte,” said Roxas, who is concurrent vice chairman for disaster preparedness of the National Diaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
“This is just the start. A lot more has to be done. But one thing’s sure: the flow of relief goods will be continuous because the main supply routes are now open,” he said.
The goods will be distributed from two hubs. The Tacloban hub will be servicing 24 towns while the Ormoc hub will send relief goods to 16 towns.
The affected municipalities in Eastern Samar will get their food supply from the logistics hub set up at the airport in Guiuan.
“Our teams in the distribution hubs are working 24/7. The goods are repacked at night and distributed the whole day,” Roxas said.
Each pack is made up of six kilos of rice, six canned goods (3 sardines, 3 corned beef), eight instant noodles and eight sachets of coffee. Each food pack, for a family of five, will last for two to three days.