Access to aid in quake-hit Itbayat, Batanes remains a challenge – Robredo

Robie de Guzman   •   July 31, 2019   •   914

MANILA, Philippines – The deployment of relief goods to parts of Itbayat town in Batanes remains a challenge four days since two successive earthquakes jolted the area, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday.

Robredo made the observation after visiting the town earlier in the day to personally see the damages left by the temblor and to distribute relief packs to earthquake victims.

“Iyong pagkain, challenge. Iyong construction materials, challenge, dahil sa layo ng lugar. Mayroong mga barko na pumupunta, pero it takes a while bago makarating,” she said.

“Gaya noong dala namin, three days pa siya bago makarating. Halimbawa, iyong PAL (Philippine Airlines) nag-o-offer na makapagpadala sa kanila for free, pero hanggang Basco lang iyon, so kailangan pa din i-transport iyong mga goods. So ano talaga, mahirap. Kahit urgent, hindi talaga mamadali, dahil sa hirap ng pagpunta,” she added.

Robredo also noted that the steel bars, to be used for the rebuilding of damaged structures, are the most difficult to transport since these are too heavy for boats.

“Siguro iyong Navy ship iyong kailangan,” she said.

“Malawak iyong destruction. Iyong pinuntahan natin na barangay, iyong Santa Maria, tapos iyong dinaanan, San Rafael, sobrang dami ng bahay na nasira,” she added.

The vice president also stressed the need for the urgent building of shelters for affected residents.

“Siguro iyong first na pinaka-urgent, na may matulugan na sila na mas maayos. Mayroon naman tayong mga dala na gamit, pero mas pang-temporary siya. Siguro sa lalong madaling panahon, iyong pinaka-mahalaga, maka-build na ng temporary shelters,” she said.

Due to the damages sustained in Itbayat town, Robredo suggested for the local government unit to strengthen the prepositioning of relief goods and implement protocols for quick disaster response.

“Dapat mayroon na sanang, parang, protocols. Na kapag may nangyayari dito, paano iyong pagdala ng tulong. Kasi naaalala ko, in 2016, noong Typhoon Ferdie, nandito din ako, eh. Nandito din ako sa Itbayat, same problem. Iyong pinaka-problema talaga, kahit may sasakyan, mahaba talaga iyong travel time, eh. So siguro iyong kailangang i-consider din, magkaroon na ng… parang naka-store na provisions (of aid) lalo na sa pagkain,” she said.

“Iyong isa pa, talagang ang health services dito, iyong mga hospital, kailangan talagang paglaanan ng maraming tulong, para kapag may ganito, dahil malayo iyong mga dadalhan, dapat equipped noong mga kailangan,” she added.

The entire province of Batanes is listed in the UNESCO tentative list for inscription in the World Heritage list due to the intangible heritage elements of the Ivatan people, including their stone houses.

But Robredo said that following the quake, there is now a need to ‘tweak’ the design of stone houses in Batanes to withstand strong earthquakes.

Batanes residents are much prepared for tropical cyclones as the province, which sits in the northernmost part of the country, is usually in the path of storms entering the Philippines.

“Iyong sa akin, baka kailangan balikan na in preserving the stone houses, tingnan na kung paano niya mawi-withstand iyong ganito. Siguro kailangang i-tweak iyong design, iyong engineering design. Wala kasi siyang mga kabilya, eh. Talagang mga bato lahat,” Robredo said.

“Tama iyong sabi ni Gov, na for a very long time, ang pinaghahandaan kasi nila bagyo. Ngayon lang nag-strike itong ganitong katinding lindol, saka lang nila naisip na may problema pala iyong… parang iyong original design ng mga bahay dito,” she added.

The Vice President said they visited earthquake victims to extend assistance through its Angat Buhay initiative which partners with private companies in providing aid to communities in need.

They also donated an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine for the local hospital.

PH Navy reservists conduct relief ops in Ulysses-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   November 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Philippine Navy Reserve Force across Luzon are assisting in the delivery of relief goods to different areas in Luzon that were severely affected by the recent Typhoon Ulysses.

In a statement, the navy said reservists packed and distributed relief goods to different communities in Metro Manila and other Luzon provinces, including Rizal, Bicol, and Cagayan Valley.

The navy said its Naval Reserve Center-Southern Luzon through the navy reservists from Camarines Sur under 31st Naval Group Reserve (NRG) augmented to inter-agency relief efforts of distributing relief goods to Barangays Sta Eulalia and Iyagan in Baao, Camarines Sur.

While Philippine Navy 22nd NRG-Team Star conducted relief operations in Rodriguez and Montalban Rizal.

Aside from the delivery and distribution of relief goods, the navy said its personnel also assisted in the evacuation and rescue operations for families affected by widespread flooding during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

Naval Affiliated Reserve Force (NARF)-NCR (WesPhil) deployed two amphibious trucks with one rescue team of well-trained and capable reservists onboard each truck to flooded areas in the cities of Marikina and Navotas.

In Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), PN reservists from Northern Luzon have joined local government units in Cagayan in the conduct of search and rescue operations in the affected communities of widespread flood in the province.

“Said disaster response and relief operations demonstrated the invaluable contributions and selfless service of our reservists as force multipliers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during calamities and other types of human and natural disasters,” the navy said.

The Philippine Navy said it has been helping in relief efforts since last week when Typhoon Rolly ravaged parts of Bicol region.

These deployments are being supervised by the Naval Reserve Command headed by Major Gen. Ariel Caculitan in coordination with Joint Task Force – National Capital Region.

DILG orders Cagayan Province to lift strict health protocols on relief, rescue efforts

Maris Federez   •   November 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the Provincial Government of Cagayan to lift its the strict coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health protocols which pose challenges to the rescue operations and relief efforts in areas affected by Typhoon Ulysses.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said the order was prompted by the numerous reports that they have been receiving from relief and media organizations that are being prohibited from entering the provincial border because of strict quarantine restrictions imposed by the provincial government.

The DILG said lifting the restriction will allow relief, search and rescue teams, and media outlets to have immediate access to the residents affected by the typhoon.

“The situation in Cagayan requires unhampered disaster response and recovery operations by rescue and relief organizations. Therefore, all LGUs in Cagayan and Isabela should ease up access in their areas to facilitate disaster operations,” Año said.

“Existing LGU requirements related to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic should not hamper nor delay the entry, passage, or operations of all government and private sector humanitarian assistance and response personnel,” he added.

The DILG chief also directed the Regional IATF and all LGUs to exercise prudence and caution in lifting the restrictions.

“The mayors know best the situation in their areas, so they should use their sound discretion in lifting the restrictions but always implement the minimum health standards in the conduct of relief operations,” he added.

He, on the other hand, instructed all disaster response personnel and media workers to observe minimum health standards while doing their humanitarian work. He also reminded them to adhere to wearing face masks and face shields at all times during such efforts. —/mbmf

Marcos wants Leonen to inhibit from poll protest vs Robredo

Maris Federez   •   November 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos is asking Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to inhibit from the hearing of his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

The Marcos camp claimed that Justice Leonen had shown his prejudices against the said election protest.

Marcos said Leonen, the justice-in-charge on the case, had been one of those who had been against the burial of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He is also an appointee of former President Benigno Aquino III whose family is known as a political rival of the Marcoses.

Marcos claims that Leonen has been dragging the case with his inaction.

“Justice Leonen has prejudged this case. He’s hostile to me and to our entire group if you may call that. And we see some instances where he expressed an opinion against the Marcoses. Me, in particular, and the Marcoses, in general,” the former senator said.

He also alleged that Justice Leonen had been delaying the proceedings of the case by asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Office of the Solicitor-General on whether the high court has jurisdiction on the case.

“Naging maliwanag sa akin ang dahilan kung bakit niya hiningan ng comment ay magdelay ulit at imposible para sa akin na hindi niya nalalaman. Isang justice ng Supreme Court, hindi nalalaman ang batas tungkol diyan? Hihingi tungkol sa jurisdiction?” he said.

Aside from Leonen’s inhibition, the Marcos camp also wants to have the election protest raffled off again and for the court to arrive at a resolution for all the pending details on the said protest.

Among these is the nullification of the votes in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao due to the reported harassment of voters and alleged preshading of ballots.

Marcos personally went to the Supreme Court on Monday morning (November 9) with his lawyers, Atty George Erwin Garcia and Atty. Vic Rodriguez who is also his spokesperson.

Marcos hopes that, with Leonen’s inhibition, the case will proceed accordingly and will be immediately resolved.

“Pag wala na si Justice Leonen kung mag-inhibit siya may pag-asa na hindi na madelay; may pag-asa matatapos in time. Pag si Justice ang nakaupo, in charge diyan, sa aking pananaw, imposibleng matatapos ito in time. Pipilitin niya ipupwersa abutin ang filing para maging moot and academic.  Eleven months walang ginawa walang sinulat walang inilabas na desisyon,” he claimed. — (from the report of Dante Amento) /mbmf

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