(URGENT) Aquino to declare state of national calamity

December 7, 2012 11:18 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Dec. 7 — President Benigno Aquino III is set to declare a state of national calamity as recommended by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

This was announced by Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang who accompanied the President to areas devastated by typhoon Pablo in Mindanao.

The President also ordered the Dept. of Interior and Local Government, Dept. of Justice, and the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct a thorough study on how the government can minimize, if not eliminate casualties during calamities.

"I’d like to get to the point na sigurado ‘yung Pilipino na mabibigyan siya ng timely information, meron siyang malilikasan na lugar para mailayo siya sa panganib, at mabawasan kung hindi tuluyang mawala ‘yung nawawalang Pilipino kada merong natural disaster (tulad) nito," he said.

Aquino said the DILG will supervise the LGUs, while the DOJ will look at potential criminal, civil violations of the pertinent laws.

The DENR, on the other hand, will provide the necessary scientific facts for whatever conclusions are reached with the assistance of the Dept. of Science and Technology.

"The number of our missing is still very high and we’re not even sure that that is the complete number because nobody has told me today that we have managed to touch base with all of the potentially affected community," he noted.

The President said he wants a more "centralized" effort on the government's search, rescue and retrieval operations.

He designated Major General Segovia to head and coordinate to all disaster management councils in provinces affected by typhoon Pablo "para masigurado na lahat ng communities ay naimbentaryo na natin at maitaas ‘yung probability na kung may makita tayong mga survivors ay mapuntahan ng search and rescue teams sa lalong madaling panahon."

"Habang tumatagal na wala kang bubong, exposed to elements, hindi ka kumakain, baka walang tubig, tumataas ‘yung potensyal na magkakasakit ka — ‘yung ‘highly opportunistic diseases’ na sinasabi ni Secretary (Enrique) Ona," he added.

President Aquino was amenable that anything made by man will always be imperfect. But, he said, "that shouldn’t stop us in trying to achieve perfection."

As such, he said he already ordered for the deployment "roughly about half of the helicopter assets of the air force to these operations."

"By tomorrow, we are expecting two water purification systems to address the shortage of water" in the affected areas, he added.

Aquino said there were also K-9 teams to arriving on Saturday to assist in the search and rescue operations.

He said: "Nung namatayan tayo sa (bagyong) Sendong, napakabigat sa akin. Dito ( sa bagyong Pablo), inaasahan natin substantially mababawasan — siguro naman two to three in numbers alone malaki-laki na ang nabawas.

"Pero ang dami pa ring namatay na Pilipino. Part of my character is hindi pwede ‘yung 'OK' na ‘yan.

"Anything made by man can be improved by man. We need to improve to ensure that our people are placed at the least risk possible."

The death toll from the typhoon has climbed to 456, according to the NDRRMC's latest advisory, while 533 are still reported missing.

On the other hand, initial damage to infrastructure already reached P930 million, according to the DPWH. (PNA)

HBC/LGI

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