When disasters strike, evacuation is top priority. That’s why President Duterte is pushing the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to construct durable structures dedicated for evacuation purposes.
During the post-disaster assessment briefing in Camarines Sur, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año mentioned that the construction of local evacuation centers is one of their top priorities.
According to Edgar Posadas, National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesman, there are currently 126 persons dead due to Tropical Depression Usman, 109 of them in Bicol region, 13 in Eastern Visayas, 3 in MIMAROPA and one in CALABARZON as of Saturday noon. 20 people are still missing.
President Duterte also said that this was not the first time the issue was raised. He mentioned how classes are suspended since schools are being used as evacuation centers during calamities.
“Every typhoon, calamity that would need the evacuation of people, the public schools really suffer. And also it disturbs the system. It causes an aberration rather in the schooling of children,” he said.
Since HUDCC Chairman Eduardo Del Rosario has his hands full with the rehabilitation of Marawi City, Duterte tasked him to assign someone to look into this project.
“In the matter of building some structure to accommodate evacuees, maybe General Del Rosario can give us a blueprint of that…Since you are here and you can go around and study,” he said.
“But it has to be a durable one, semento (made of cement). But this can only be used for evacuation purposes and to keep the people safe and not to disturb the resumption of the governmental functions that we have, the ministrant schooling and everything,” the president added.
Interfering with Students’ Education
In September last year after the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong, President Duterte and Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones both agreed that the use of classrooms for evacuation interferes with the education of students.
The president’s concern is that the students are having a difficult time catching up with their studies and that children living in temporary shelters are exposed to greater risks.
Search and Relief Missions Ramped Up
More soldiers arrived in Bicol region to help in the search and relief missions in areas affected by the flash flood and landslides caused by Usman.
Commanding General of the Philippine Army Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto said four search and rescue teams as well as the equipment needed for the clearing and rehabilitation are already on their way.
“These teams will augment our forces in Bicol region who are currently assisting the local government units,” Alberto said.
Most of the fatalities due to landslides are in Camarines Sur and Albay, so this is where the bulk of the teams will be deployed.
341,000 people in Bicol region have reportedly been affected by the weather disturbances alone.
Additional Rescue Teams
Together with the Philippine Army, rescue teams from the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, police and the Bureau of Fire Protection were also deployed in distressed areas. These teams are equipped and trained to provide the necessary assistance to those affected by floods and landslides.
“We also facilitated the transport of various rescue equipment, medical supplies, carpentry tools, cadaver bags, folding beds, shovels and portable generators to complement the disaster response effort of local government units and other concerned government agencies in the area,” said Alberto.
In Eastern Visayas, soldiers were also deployed to assist the communities affected by heavy flooding at the height of the Usman devastation.
Aside from soldiers that have been tasked to assist communities, military trucks, rubber boats, and other rescue assets have also been deployed in Eastern Visayas especially in hardest-hit areas.
Eastern Samar has the most number of affected families and individuals with 4,562 and 16,748 respectively.
P2-B Worth of Infrastructure Damage in Bicol
As of now, Usman is responsible for causing P2,073,518,500 worth of damages to infrastructure in the Bicol region alone.
For both Bicol and Eastern Visayas, the damage to agriculture was estimated at P528,509,569.55.
NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said the numbers are still undergoing validation. The casualties, 28 missing, and 60 injured in MIMAROPA, Bicol, and Eastern Visayas due to Usman are also under verification.
via Manila Bulletin / Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Aaron Recuenco