Charitable Groups Mobilize, Appeal for Donations for “Pablo” TyphoonVictimsBy Dionesio C. Grava, Deputy Managing Editor PhilippineAmbassador to Washington, D.C. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said that individuals andorganizations in the US who would like to assist in the relief assistance can send theircash donations to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council(www.ndrrmc.gov.ph); the Department of Social Welfare and Development(www.dswd.gov.ph); and the Philippine National Red Cross (www.redcross.org.ph).Her name was Aimee, a 7-year-old daughter of an overseas Filipino worker who had enduredsome 24 hours half-submerged in muddy water but died soon after being rescued. She hadbecome the poster girl of the pain and devastation brought by Pablo, the worst typhoon that hitthe Philippines this year.In a country where early Christmas cheers would have been the norm at this time of year,tragedy struck with such a devastating swath it left in its wake so much suffering and damage.The grim reaper has a bountiful harvest with more than 500 bodies recovered so far.Blown in the wind; deaths in flash floods. That’s how one newspaper characterized the Category5 storm that moved swiftly in its predicted path, sending roofs flying off houses, hectares ofcoconut trees tumbling, rivers bursting their banks, canceling flights and ferry services, churchbells ringing and sirens wailing especially in some parts of Mindanao in the early hours ofDecember 4.The predicted path included Bohol, Biliran, Camotes Island, Southern Leyte, Leyte,Eastern Samar, and Western Samar in the Visayas. Provinces in Mindanao that were placedunder the storm signal warning were Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte including SurigaoIsland, Dinagat Is., Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte inc.Samal Is., Compostela Valley, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin.
The death and destructionIn the aftermath of the storm’s landfall folks in the remote mining and farming town of Bataan,Compostela Valley, were shocked to find that the terrain had drastically changed.A report said that what used to be a field of coconut trees and wooden houses had turned into agushing river as wide as the Edsa highway belt of Metro Manila flanked by rocks and bouldersthat had tumbled down the mountain.The estimated cost of damage to property, agriculture and infrastructure may soar to P5 billionor more. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reportedthat more than 5.1 million people (or 1,033,364 families) have been affected adversely in 1,862barangays (villages) in 26 provinces throughout regions 4B, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, and CARAGA. Atleast 211,000 people taking refuge at crowded government-run shelters, another report said.Rescue officials said Mindanao’s east coast accounted for all but 40 of the 546 known deathsfrom Typhoon Pablo (Bopha). Other fatalities were reported in Palawan – 2, Capiz – 1, CentralVisayas –7, Eastern Visayas – 2, Zamboanga City – 1, Northern Mindanao – 11, and CaragaRegion – 11. Of the dead less than a hundred have so far been identified and more are missing.Earlier it was reported that at the height of the storm 1,710 passengers, 227 rolling cargos, 79vessels, and 15 motor bancas were stranded in various ports in the country.Who to blame for the large number of casualties?On Friday, December 7, President Noynoy Aquino III inspected the ravaged areas in Mindanaoaccompanied by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin,Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Social Welfareand Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, EnvironmentSecretary Ramon Paje, and Presidential Communications Development Secretary RamonCarandang. They first visited New Bataan and distributed relief packs and P10,000 to eachfamily taking shelter in an evacuation center.“Your government will not stop until we ensure your lives improve and prevent this kind oftragedy,” he was quoted in Pilipino promising the victims of the tragedy that the governmentwould hasten efforts to help them. He also expressed regret that so many casualties occurevery time there is a disaster. Why did the tragedy happen and how to prevent it fromhappening again, he asked.Why, indeed, were there so many casualties when there were early warnings from thePhilippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration? According to anAP report, “The deaths came despite efforts by President Benigno Aquino III’s government toforce residents out of high-risk communities as the typhoon approached. Vice President JejomarBinay directed local executives, police and military officials not to allow those displaced to returnto their homes in areas classified as danger zones. However, it wasn’t clear how quickly andwhere substitute homes would be built.”Outpouring of love and aid
Pope Benedict XVI, in a message relayed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal TarcisioBertone through the Papal nuncio in the Philippines, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Thursdayexpressed his solidarity with the Filipino victims of the tragedy.United Kingdom Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire extended on behalf of the Britishgovernment his deep sympathies to the families of the casualties and to those in evacuationshelters in many parts of Mindanao.Meanwhile, it was reported on December 8 that hungry and homeless typhoon survivors in thetowns of Maparat and Cateel looted shops and warehouses in search of food. Four days afterthe calamity struck, officials still struggled to bring in food and relief convoys through roads thathad been blocked or swept away by floods and avalanches of rock, logs and mud. Officials saiddamage to roads and bridges by floods and landslides trapped 150,000 people for three days inCateel and the nearby towns of Baganga and Boston, where they said 97 percent of buildingswere flattened or unroofed.About 4,000 residents in the destroyed farming village of Maparat were left to eating fallencoconut fruits, said an AFP report. It said the survivors were sleeping 80 to a room on the bareconcrete floor of the local elementary school, sharing the toilet’s two stalls and are doing theirwashing and bathing at a nearby spring, which is also their only source of water. In diresituations like these it is apparent that people affected need more than messages of solidarity orsympathies.In a press release the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., expressed its appreciation tothe United States for its prompt response in support of disaster relief efforts in typhoon-ravagedareas in Mindanao. Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. announced thatWashington would be releasing $100,000 to the Catholic Relief Services to help victims ofTyphoon Pablo (international name Bopha).Reports also said the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will be sendingassessment teams to typhoon-affected areas to determine where the assistance is mostneeded. Ambassador Cuisia said that Washington has provided $11.7 million in humanitarianassistance and over $4.1 million in disaster risk reduction activities to Manila since 2007.Ambassador Cuisia said that individuals and organizations in the US who wouldlike to assist in the relief efforts can send their cash donations to the NDRRMC(www.ndrrmc.gov.ph); the Department of Social Welfare and Development (www.dswd.gov.ph);and the Philippine National Red Cross (www.redcross.org.ph).The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is reportedlytargeting 3.7 million euros to help the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) support families displacedby the typhoon. The money will be used to provide immediate food and non- food relief items tothe victims and finance their recovery through providing water and sanitation systems, cashgrants to help restore livelihoods, and materials to rebuild homes.
The Inquirer reported that cash and relief goods for the victims had poured in from foreigndonors. Canada announced that it was giving P10 million (Cad$ 250,000) through theCanadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to the International Federation of RedCross and Red Crescent societies to address the emergency needs of the people affected bythe storm.In addition, a United Nations disaster and assessment team, which includes a Canadiandelegate whose deployment is funded through an ongoing CIDA project, has been deployed toprovide direct support with the rapid needs assessments.Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said that his government has offeredP210 million (A$5 million) in assistance to the Philippines for the conduct of relief operations.ABS CBN Foundation International announced that it is currently accepting donations to assistin rescue operations and providing aid to over 86,000 families that are now in evacuationcenters. Contributions can be made to “ABS CBN Foundation International (Typhoon Pablo)”online at www.abscbnfoundation.org or via checks to 150 Shoreline Drive, Redwood City, CA94065.Yolanda O. Stern of One World Institute is seeking donations for a flood relief mission. She saidOWI “does not use 1 penny for administrative or delivery fees. So give where your contributionsland where you want it to. Donate at: www.theoneworldinstitute.org.”Boxer-politician Manny Pacquiao, who was scheduled to fight against Mexican Juan ManuelMarquez Saturday, has pledged support for the victims of the typhoon.In Los Angeles, Maria Amor Torres of the Exoti Group of Companies has informedPinoyWatchdog.com that the 3rd Annual Exotifit Christmas party will raise funds to be donatedto our countrymen who are in pain and desperation as a result of the worst typhoon that hit thisyear. She posted this in her Facebook page.Willo Lim, president of the Sto. Nino de Cebu Association of Southern California, also informedthat a donation box for the victims in Cateel, Davao, will be provided during the organization’sAnnual Christmas Dinner Dance on December 8, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel & CommerceCasino, City of Commerce.Songstress-entertainer Malou Toler sent in this email: “Yes, we are scheduling it for Dec. 27, I’mgathering artists and Evelyn is working on the venue.” Ms. Toler, a familiar sight in fundraisingcauses, is contacting artist friends to join in the humanitarian undertaking.Civic and church leader Pex Aves also volunteered to make representation with CouncilmemberElito Santarina of the City of Carson to initiate a fundraising towards this end.‘Pablo’ updates
Amid a shortage of coffins in the calamity area, the Pampanga provincial government under theleadership of Governor Lilia G. Pineda had asked the Pampanga Mayors’ League (PML) to helpin the preparation of at least 500 coffins for delivery to the typhoon-stricken areas in MindanaoA December 7 press release from the Dept. of Labor and Employment says that SecretaryRosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz ordered the release of an initial P5.5-million funding for emergencyemployment and livelihood of workers who were displaced by typhoon Pablo in Caraga Regionand Compostela Valley, particularly in the town of New Bataan.In a briefing with the president held at the Davao International Airport, NDRRMC ExecutiveDirector Benito Ramos said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has already sentpotable water to New Bataan, Compostela Valley. Albay is also giving water to the typhoonvictims. The Dept. of Social Welfare and Development will coordinate where to locate the watersupplies for easy access of the people, Secretary Dinky Soliman said.Dept. of Health Secretary Enrique Ona informed that they have already distributed chlorinetablets where there is no safe drinking water yet as well as medicines to affected areas. Onaadmitted there are some problems in distributing medicines because many devastated areasare still inaccessible. The Dept. of Trade and Industry is also doing price monitoring incoordination with the Philippine National Police to prevent traders from jacking up their prices.The government is also spearheading a “Diskuwento Caravan” to provide the people withaffordable basic necessities.