It has been four weeks now since Super Typhoon Yolanda struck; both the national government and local government units (LGUs) are still collecting corpses of those who perished in the aftermath of the devastation. This clearly shows the lack of capability, especially on the part of the national government to help the LGUs.
What is worse is that there are now doubts on the statistics of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) on the number of fatalities. The figure of 5,560 was released by the NDRRMC over a week ago on 28 November 2013 that included an additional 60 more fatalities.
However, the figure of 5,560 fatalities did not include the over 100 bodies seen floating in the vicinity of the San Juanico Bridge about the same time on Thursday last week. It was only later reported in media this week that there were 120 dead bodies.
The latest count of the NDRRMC as of 5 December 2013 was 5,818. This is already close to 6,000, three times the initial figure of 2,000 to 2,500 given by President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
The Executive Director of NDRRMC, who is also heads the Office of Civil Defense under the Department of National Defense was reported to have said last week that “there was a minimal increase in the number of fatalities reported to the NDRRMC in recent days.” (Inquirer, 29 November 2013). But this seems to be farthest from the truth.
30 corpses retrieved daily
The City Administrator of Tacloban City, Mr. John Tecson Lim, said on ANC television last Wednesday night that they average a retrieval of 30 dead bodies per day. Hence, that would be around 200 corpses per week. Yet the NDCC only added 60 more bodies to their count for the whole devastation when it would be 200 in Tacloban alone!
In response to my column last week entitled “Issues on and lessons for PNoy on super-typhoon,” I received a text message from a former top Malacañang official in the Office of the President. It read: “Tell [NDRRMC Chairman] Gazmin to enrol in Kumon!” The message was for Secretary Gazmin and NDRRMC to learn how to count correctly.
Print and broadcast journalist Ramon Tulfo went back to Tacloban in late November 25 to 27 for his second medical mission with 37 doctors from St. Luke’s Hospital and the Chinese General Hospital and 11 members from his staff and other volunteers. He reported in his Inquirer column of 30 November 2013 that the situation in Tacloban is “much worse” than when he first went there two weeks earlier with the first medical mission.
Mr. Tulfo wrote of the “piles of garbage and [dead]bodies still buried in the rubble . . . and the streets littered with uncollected garbage and the smell of dead bodies was everywhere” almost three weeks after the super-storm struck Leyte. He said that the “stench of garbage and dead bodies lingered” even after his first medical mission left two weeks earlier. He warned of an epidemic if the national government does not take action.
What is deeply disturbing was his report that the government “frontline workers” did not receive anti-tetanus injections and anti-leptospirosis capsules. The soldiers, policemen and even employees of DSWD deployed in Leyte were not provided with any protection via immunization. They had to go to the clinic of Tulfo’s medical mission inside the Philippine Air Force base in Tacloban for their injections and capsules.
Other than Leyte and Eastern Samar, President B.S. Aquino 3rd has not visited northern Cebu until today to check on the devastation there, especially in Bantayan Island. After four weeks, our President has not visited his constituents in northern Cebu as well as in northern Iloilo, where the British destroyer is docked in the northeast town of Carles, and the provinces of Aklan an Antique in Panay Island.
In Mindanao, President Aquino did not arrive last Wednesday for the turnover of 50 houses to beneficiaries who were victims of Typhoon Pablo that devastated Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley in December last year. (Inquirer, 05 December 2013). There were more than 600 fatalities and 170,000 evacuees after Typhoon Pablo destroyed more than 40,000 houses in the two provinces in Eastern Mindanao.
The no-show of P-Noy in Canteel, Davao Oriental, for the turnover of the housing units for the typhoon victims seems to follow a pattern of political “vendetta.” The Governor of Davao Oriental, Corazon Malanyaon, is not from the ruling Liberal Party. In fact, she supported then Sen. Manuel Villar for president in 2010.
A similar thing happened in the province of Leyte. PNoy made a presidential visit to Tacloban on the third day (November 10) of Super Typhoon Yolanda. It was a short, perfunctory visit to the capital of Leyte that is also the Regional Center for Eastern Visayas. President Aquino did not stay long after doing the usual token handing of relief goods to the victims, the “photo-op” and the NDRRMC meeting where he reportedly walked out.
It is common knowledge that Leyte is Romualdez country. This has been so even before and after World War II with the uncles and cousins of Imelda Romualdez Marcos. At present, the Mayor of Tacloban and the Congressman of Tacloban and adjacent towns (First District) are Alfred Romualdez and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, respectively, who are the nephews of the former First Lady.
What is most significant is that PNoy did not even visit the adjacent towns of Palo and Tanauan just outside Tacloban.
There were also other municipalities in eastern Leyte that were badly hit, such as Tolosa down to Javier. The President also bypassed the devastated city of Ormoc on his way to Roxas City with DILG Secretary Mar Roxas.
On his second visit on the tenth day of Super Typhoon Yolanda, PNoy only visited Tacloban again and Guiuan in Eastern Samar, the most devastated town in Eastern Visayas. He once again did not visit the other badly hit municipalities south of Tacloban as well as the inner towns of Alangalan and San Miguel to the west.
What kind of President is PNoy who even has the brazen temerity to tell the Filipino people that we are his ‘BOSSES!’ The Height of Hypocrisy ?
Rick B. Ramos at email@example.com