January 31, 2023

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

Marcos considers taking over the management of Disaster Response

FILIPINO STAR/ MIGUEL ANTONIO DE GUZMAN

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Tuesday he will place the local disaster management agency under his office to streamline government response to disasters.

“There’s been a suggestion for many years that we’re going to put the disaster response team, the national response team, under the office of the President,” he said at a press conference in Tacloban City, in central Philippines, in a transcript sent from the presidential palace.

“I think we’re going in that direction because of the weather we’re suffering from now [and] the effects of climate change,” he added.

The President made the remarks at an event commemorating the ninth anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which killed more than 6,000 people and destroyed 90% of Tacloban, and after Typhoon Nalgae (Paeng), which killed at least 150 people died.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reports to the Office of Civil Protection and the state cannot ask authorities to “act faster,” Mr Marcos said.

“There’s only more we can do to actually provide aid, build the infrastructure and make sure the local government units are working, there’s communication, there’s power,” he said.

“There’s the NDRRMC, and they’re the ones charged with that, but I think it would be just as, if not, a more robust system if we put it under the Office of the President.”

“We continue to refine the procedures, the processes, the organization so that we perform even better than before,” he added.

Established in 2009, the NDRRMC is the agency that directs disaster relief. It is headed by the Secretary of Defense, while the Ministers of Home and Local Government, Social Welfare, Science and Technology and the National Economic and Development Agency serve as vice-chairs.

Tacloban City was among the hard-hit areas by Typhoon Nalgae, which killed at least 158 ​​people.

In a report, the NDRRMC said 142 people were injured while 34 people were still missing. Nalgae damaged 53,210 homes, of which 4,974 were completely destroyed. The estimated cost of damage to infrastructure has reached P4.51 billion.

Speaking at the Tacloban event, Mr Marcos questioned the government’s death toll from the super typhoon.

“I come here because I have to commemorate these countless dead, of which we do not yet know how many,” he said. “We need to come to these memorials so that we remember those we have been told not to remember.”

He said there was a time when the government stopped counting victims. “We knew there were thousands more out there. And for these thousands, these countless thousands, we come here, we commemorate. If we stop remembering, their memory will die.”

Haiyan affected more than 16 million Filipinos from nine regions, most of whom were from the Visayas in central Philippines. It was the strongest storm of 2013 and one of the strongest typhoons of all time.

With wind speeds exceeding 314 kilometers per hour, Haiyan was classified as a super typhoon. Even more devastating, however, were the powerful storm surges of up to six meters in height.

According to worldvision.org, the typhoon affected more than 14 million people in 44 provinces, displaced 4.1 million people, killed more than 6,000 and left 1,800 missing.

Haiyan damaged 1.1 million homes, destroyed 33 million coconut trees, which are a vital livelihood, and destroyed the livelihoods of 5.9 million workers, it said. Total damage was estimated at $5.8 billion.

The typhoon forced the government of late President Benigno SC Aquino III to create a program called the Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan. Allegations of corruption and inefficiency followed the Aquino government’s response to Yolanda. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza