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Speaker backs calamity state

NDRRMC recommendation awaits President’s approval

Disaster officials on Sunday formally recommended that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. place the entire country under a state of calamity for a year, after Tropical Storm “Paeng” left 48 people dead and a wide swath of destruction across almost all regions.

PAENG’S DOING. An aerial shot shows residents wading through a flooded rice field at a village in Tuguegarao, Cagayan on October 30, a day after Tropical Storm Paeng hit. Authorities and emergency workers—from the Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection (pictured), and other security agencies—scrambled to rescue residents trapped by floods and collapsed buildings while distributing relief goods across the country. AFP, PCG, BFP photos 

Paeng is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility Monday morning or afternoon.

A state of calamity would enable the government to tap additional funds for disaster relief and freeze prices of basic commodities.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Sunday said he supported the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) recommendation.

“The NDRRMC respectfully recommends the following: declare a national state of calamity due to the effects, damage, and projected impacts by severe tropical storm Paeng for a period of one year, unless earlier lifted; and to accept offers of international assistance based on needs,” said NDRRMC Executive Director Raymundo Ferrer in his recommendation to Mr. Marcos.

As of press time, Malacanang still had no word on whether the President would approve the disaster agency’s proposal. On Saturday, Mr. Marcos said he will wait for the NDRRMC resolution even as he acknowledged the number of regions affected already merits a state of calamity declaration.

“Considering that many regions are affected, that justifies the state of calamity,” the President said in a meeting with agency officials.

Meanwhile, Romualdez said: “Reports reaching my office indicate that almost all regions in the country were affected by the onslaught of severe tropical storm Paeng, which destroyed bridges, roads, and key infrastructure and wrought havoc on life and property.”

He said he has asked members of the House of Representatives to help executive department agencies assess the damage caused by the storm and help in relief operations in their respective districts.

The Speaker said the damage assessment reports would be compiled so the House can consider possible adjustments to the budget allocation for repair and rehabilitation in the 2023 General Appropriations Act.

“At the moment, our focus is on relief operations to alleviate the suffering of our fellowmen and to deliver aid as soon as possible to those in need. We have launched a relief drive and operations in the House of Representatives to help the national government secure the resources needed in affected communities,” he said.

The House will also use its power over the purse to see to it that rehabilitation of affected communities will proceed unhampered as soon as the relief stage is completed, he added.

Southern Leyte 2nd District Rep. Christopherson Yap agreed on the need to declare a state of national calamity.

“Although our district was spared from major devastation comparable to what we experienced with Super Typhoon Odette, there are parts of the country that need the national government’s assistance in order to rise again from this natural calamity,” he said.

The NDRRMC said at least 48 persons perished in the storm, which displaced almost a million people.

Initial estimates also put losses due to agricultural damage at P54.96 million in Western Visayas and Soccsksargen. More than 700 houses in various regions were damaged.

The Police Regional Office-Eastern Visayas said 13,812 people or 4,066 families have remained in 211 evacuation centers across the region. Some 2,041 passengers, four ships, and 620 vehicles were also stranded in various seaports.

At least 25 areas remained flooded, with 20 other areas still without electricity.

The most heavily affected areas were in Bangsamoro, Soccsksargen, Eastern Visayas, Bicol, and Western Visayas.


Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net

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