Duterte says looking for money for typhoon victims as funds ‘depleted’ due to COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has assured those affected by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) that he is trying to look for funds for their aid, saying that government coffers have already been “immensely depleted” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a briefing on the disaster situation in Visayas and Northern Mindanao on Friday, Duterte said that as soon as he gets the funding, assistance will be sent to the provinces ravaged by the super typhoon.
“We are trying to raise the money, I was also late (because) I was talking with the budget, alam mo depleted ‘yong budget natin immensely because of the COVID, naubos talaga ‘yong pera natin,” he said.
(We are trying to raise the money, I was also late (because) I was talking with the budget, you know our budget has been depleted immensely because of the COVID, we really spent our money.)
“Itong COVID, naubos ang pera natin. So we’re trying to screen how much we can raise so that we can marshal it to the areas affected,” he added.
(This COVID really emptied our coffers. So we’re trying to screen how much we can raise so that we can marshal it to the areas affected.)
Duterte also asked Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad if the runway at the airport of Siargao island in Surigao del Norte is functional.
When Jalad answered in the affirmative, the Chief Executive said he would visit the area and other provinces if time permits it.
“As per information from the area, the terminal ng (of) Siargao was damaged but the runway is usable Mr. President,” Jalad said.
“The runway is good? Take off and land. I’m flying tomorrow to the area also, I would hit maybe Leyte, Surigao, and if there is enough time, Bohol, then the day after, I would try to visit Cebu then dito sa (here in) Western, Eastern side of the Islands, Bacolod, Iloilo,” the President replied.
Earlier, Jalad also reported to Duterte that his office received information that 14 people have already died due to Typhoon Odette. But this information is still being validated by OCD, Jalad noted.
Duterte said he is not worried about damage to infrastructure, as he worries more about the lives lost.
“I am not so much worried about damage to structures, infrastructures of government, ang ano ko is, ang takot ko kung maraming namatay (my real fear is that many might have died). Eh I am as eager as you to go there, to see for myself,” he said.
“I’d like (to have) a report or sa, ako nanonood din (about the damage, I have seen it), for the Secretary of DPWH, that’s one worry. I’ve been trying to call persons there but I would want the Secretary to make the report to us,” he added.
Based on OCD’s presentation during the briefing with the President, the 14 fatalities were from Western Visayas (6), Central Visayas (4), Caraga (2), Eastern Visayas (1), and Northern Mindanao. (1)
As of Friday afternoon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that Odette was able to maintain its strength as it moves over mainland Palawan.
Most recent data from the government’s weather bureau showed that Odette was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of 215 kph as it moved west at 25 kph.
Odette weakened a little after its 9th landfall but before that, it barreled through Caraga and Northern Mindanao at its peak strength of 195 kph near the center prior to moving over the Visayas region and then Palawan.
Odette managed to maintain its super typhoon status despite the slight slide in its strength, according to Pagasa.
By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu