Aquino's Cabinet mobilized for Yolanda
MANILA, Philippines – All hands are on deck as President Benigno Aquino III gave instructions to his Cabinet secretaries on how to deal with the devastation left by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the President ordered Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to release P365 million worth of funds to the Philippine Air Force for petroleum, oil and lubricants for the transportation of relief goods. Aquino met with Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista to make sure logistical support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines is in place.
Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo was instructed to propose a "secure, all-weather communication system that can be used in calamities that we often face all year round,” Coloma said. (READ: Radio contact center set up in Tacloban) This, after large portions of the areas hit by Yolanda, including Tacloban City in Leyte, were cut from the communication grid.
Montejo was asked to study the situation and to give “concrete suggestions on how to address the problem of disconnected communication in times of storms and calamities,” said Coloma.
Because hard-hit areas remained without power and communication capabilities, Coloma said Montejo was tasked to retrace the path of Yolanda “to determine the areas of greatest impact,” which would serve as a guide for relief and rescue forces on the ground.
Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras and Ochoa have been tasked to oversee coordination among the various agencies with the help of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and to report to the President.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas have been appointed to lead “search, rescue and relief operations on the ground, and to ensure no areas are isolated or cut off” from government resources. Both went to Tacloban City, one of the most severely hit areas, to survey the extent of the damage.
Coloma said Aquino also talked to Department of Works and Public Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson who said the DPWH is working to clear roads and survey areas where landslides occurred, as well as coastal areas affected the storm surge.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman also gave assurances to the President that the DSWD is ready to provide sufficient relief goods, especially food, said Coloma.
“They are pre-positioned, and they have started to distribute them in various evacuation centers,” Coloma said.
The government has given assurances it has adequate resources for typhoon victims, but also thanked the international community for providing aid and being willing to help. It continues to call for volunteers to help pack goods for those affected by Yolanda.
One of the most intense typhoons on record, Yolanda whipped the central part of the country for most of Friday, November 8, leaving at least a hundred dead and terrifying millions.
Yolanda smashed into coastal communities on the central island of Samar before dawn on Friday with maximum sustained winds of about 235 km/h and gusts of up to 275 km/h, according to PAGASA. Foreign meterologists said it hit land with winds of 315 km/h, one of the strongest ever recorded. It is one of the most intense typhoons ever to make landfall.
Yolanda swept across the Visayas, destroying phone and power lines, as well as homes and vital infrastructure. - Rappler.com