CASIGURAN, Aurora: President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday visited this town where Typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu) made landfall last Sunday before wreaking havoc to Central Luzon and Northern Luzon.
Instead of visiting Baler as initially scheduled, Aquino went to Casiguran where he led a ceremonial turnover of relief goods for typhoon survivors.
For over an hour, the President received updates from his Cabinet members and local government leaders on relief and rehabilitation efforts in Aurora, which had reeled from 175 kilometer per hour winds.
He also gave instructions and guidelines in response to the reports he got from local government officials who said the typhoon brought P578 million in total damage to infrastructure and agriculture throughout the province.
In the same Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) briefing, the President instructed the local leaders to stop residents from using overhead power lines from fallen electric posts to dry their clothes.
”I’ve noticed that some residents are using the power lines to dry their clothes. Please make sure they are no longer using these damaged power lines before restoring the electricity to avoid casualty,” Aquino told local officials.
Casiguran Mayor Ricardo Bitong reported that 93 percent of his constituents have been affected by Typhoon Lando.
Because of the cooperation of all the barangay (village) leaders and the people as well, the typhoon left only three casualties in the province of Aurora, according to its governor, Gerardo Noveras.
”We have 42 injured people while 14,536 houses were [partly]damaged and 1,924 were totally damaged,” Noveras reported to the President.
He said the typhoon also left P22-million worth of damage from fallen electric poles.
The President distributed relief goods and inspected damaged infrastructure before attending the PDRRMC briefing at the municipal hall of Casiguran.
He then inspected damaged infrastructure including Saint Anthony de Padua Church, Casiguran public market, Agricula covered court, Casiguran District Hospital and Tinib Calangwasan Integrated School.
Aquino was accompanied by Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Health Secretary Janet Garin, Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Interior Secretary Mel Sarmiento.
Also joining the President were Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, Aurora Rep. Bella Angara-Castillo, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director Alexander Pama and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri.
From Casiguran, the President went to Pangasinan to inspect typhoon-stricken areas in the province and some parts of Central Luzon.
Last Monday, Aquino handed out relief goods to displaced families in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.
He was initially scheduled to visit the provincial capital, Baler, on Thursday where Liberal Party (LP) candidates Manuel Roxas 2nd and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo previously distributed relief goods to typhoon victims.
Baler Mayor Nelianto Bihasa, who is not affiliated with the LP, complained that there was politics involved in the visit of Roxas and Robredo since the relief goods did not pass through him.
Malacañang responded on Wednesday, saying the relief goods were meant for typhoon victims, not for Bihasa.
It said the government will help typhoon-hit provinces regardless of political affiliations.
Damage reaches P7.3B
Damage to agriculture and infrastructure caused by Typhoon Lando has reached P7.33 billion, according to latest official numbers.
Production losses in the agriculture and fisheries sector have reached P6.43 billion while the damage to infrastructure has amounted to P902.4 million, according to the NDRRMC also on Thursday.
The damage estimates were for the regions of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Cordillera.
The Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CRDRRMC) reported that the damage suffered by Benguet has reached P5.142 million as of late Wednesday.
The CRDRRMC said flooding in Baguio City’s catch basin, the City Camp Lagoon in Barangay City Camp Proper, has already subsided.
All major roads leading to the city are open to traffic except for Kennon Road, which has been declared unsafe for motorists. Three roads in the city proper were also closed to traffic.
In Benguet, all major roads in the province have been closed to traffic because of landslides, and fallen trees that have blocked flow of goods and services, causing an increase in vegetable prices.
A top official of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) has advised consumers and local meat inspectors to be cautious of meat coming from carcasses of animals that drowned and perished during the flooding caused by the typhoon.
“Any animal, whether chicken or pig, that drowned in the flooding is no longer safe [for eating],” NMIS Executive Director Minda Manantan said in Filipino on the sidelines of the Meat Safety Consciousness Week and the 43rd anniversary of the NMIS also on Thursday.
Manantan noted that meat from drowned animals has not bled immediately and properly, hence, the meat turns greenish-gray in color and becomes the source of microbial infections and toxins.
To prevent distribution of meat coming from dead animals, the NMIS fields more meat inspectors, among other moves.
Manantan called on local government units and slaughterhouses affected by the typhoon to report animal drowning.
No more ‘Lando’
The state weather bureau, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), plans to “retire” the name “Lando” because of its severe impact on lives and property.
“There are certain requirements in decommissioning the names of tropical cyclones. If it caused 300-400 casualties and P1 billion or above cost of damage, then the name will be eliminated from the list and will be replaced by another name,” weather forecaster Meno Mendoza said.
He added that “Lando” was first used in 2011.
Mendoza said the decommissioning would allow the weather bureau to easily recall details of the most damaging cyclones that hit the country.
Rains dumped by the typhoon resulted in swelling at the bottom of Lake Buhi, causing a fishkill that involved P14.5 million worth of cultured tilapia in fish cages, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Bicol.
BFAR Director Dennis Del Socorro said the fishkill that occurred on October 19 destroyed an estimated 114 metric tons of cultured tilapia owned by 68 fish cage owners.
The heavy rains stirred decaying matter at the lake bottom, causing the generation of ammonia and the depletion of oxygen content of the water, Del Socorro explained how the fishkill began and developed.
He said fishkills also happen during a long dry season when sudden downpour is followed by an abrupt changes in the weather.
Albay relief team
A 100-man humanitarian team from Albay is on its way to Casiguran and Nueva Ecija for a relief mission in typhoon-stricken areas.
Cedric Daep, chief of Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office, told The Manila Times that another relief mission will conducted in Northern Luzon.
WITH PNA AND RHAYDZ B. BARCIA