Lack of fuel derailed relief ops


The destruction of oil depots, mostly located in Tacloban City which was blown up by Super Typhoon Yolanda, has been the cause of delay in delivering the relief goods to the storm victims, a House leader said Tuesday.

Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento of Western Samar, Head of the House contingent in the powerful Commission on Appointments, made the stance in light of scathing criticisms that the Aquino administration is getting amid the bottlenecks in transporting of the much-needed relief goods.

“We appeal for understanding here. Ships do not sail very fast, and we need to look for fuel. I would say this experience is also a lesson for the oil companies. All the oil depots are in Tacloban [Leyte]. There’s one in Ormoc (Leyte). These were all heavily ravaged by Yolanda. There’s an oil depot in Northern Samar and that’s it. Even if we have the trucks, it can’t run without diesel [fuel],” Sarmiento , the Secretary General of the ruling Liberal Party, pointed out during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.

Likewise, Sarmiento also appealed for understanding about the initial logjam of aid flow in Matnog port in Sorsogon wherein ships there sail to Allen port in Northern Samar en route to the affected areas both in Eastern Samar and in Leyte provinces.

“Initially, we needed more ships [which will transport the relief goods to Allen]. And then even if we have enough ships, we need ramps for these ships. The Matnog port cannot accommodate a lot of ships all at the same time,” Sarmiento added.

Sarmiento, however, underscored that these concerns have already been addressed because it was later discovered that there are oil depots which survived Yolanda’s wrath that were located in Taft (Leyte), Borongan (Samar) and Dulag (Leyte).

“We now have enough litters of fuel because while the gas stations’s offices and canopy were destroyed, the pumps are working. The oil depot in Taft is functional, and the oil depot in Borongan is also well. It is only 40 minutes from Quinapondan (Eastern Samar). The oil depot in Dulag can be of use in Tanauan, Tolosa and even in Palo (Leyte),” Sarmiento added, referring to the municipalities and cities which were annihilated by Yolanda.

Further, there are already eight Landing Craft Transports now in use to transport relief from Matnog to Allen, on top of two ships lent by the private-owned Montenegro Shipping company. The LCTs are from Surigao, Palawan.

Also an added boost was the opening of the San Isidro port in Northern Samar, which is just 30 minutes away from Allen port, as well as the utilization of Ormoc port wherein a ship with relief goods from Cebu arrive every five hours.

It was Rep. Ding Ramos of Sorsogon who was tasked to facilitate the flow of relief efforts from Matnog in cooperation with the national government led by Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Maximo Mejia, Jr.

“Our efforts are continuing to speed up the delivery of relief. Those reports of logjam, that is not true anymore. We are maximizing all our resources. The queue [in Matnog port]is manageable. There has been a significant improvement,” Sarmiento added in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI


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