Aquino visits typhoon-hit areas in Mindanao

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Friday, December 7, 2012

MANILA (2nd Update, 5:14 p.m.) -- President Benigno Aquino III on Friday visited areas in Mindanao that were devastated by Typhoon "Pablo" (international name: Bopha) that hit the country earlier this week.

Aquino arrived at Davao International Airport around 10:30 a.m. and proceeded to his first stop in Barangay Cabinuan in New Bataan, Compostela Valley, where he led the distribution of relief goods.

In his short speech, Aquino assured that the government will attend to the needs of those who were affected by the tragedy especially those who lost their loved ones.

He said he wanted to know from the local government why a lot of people died and how similar loss of lives will be prevented in the future.

As of the latest count by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) the death toll from deadly typhoon neared the 500 mark as of Friday.

NDRRMC said the death toll from the typhoon has risen to 418. Officials expect it to rise as 383 more are still missing. At least 445 people, meanwhile, were reportedly injured.

Of the reported deaths, only 73 have been identified. At least 110 unidentified dead bodies were from New Bataan, Compostela Valley.
The NDRRMC data show that Davao region suffered the largest number of fatalities with 383.

According to various agencies the initial cost of damage to agriculture, infrastructure, and property already amounted to over P4 billion.

At least 26 municipalities and four provinces have been placed under a state of calamity.

While the President could not hide his disappointment with what happened, he said he personally visited Compostela Valley to ensure that assistance were given to affected residents.

"Hindi titigil ang pamahalaan niyo na manigurado na pagandahin ang buhay niyo at iwasan ang ganitong klaseng sakuna (This government will not stop making sure that your lives will be better and keep you away from similar misfortunes)," he added.

Aquino is also closely monitoring the government's response for the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts to immediately bring back to normal the lives of the residents who were greatly affected by the devastation.

The President also called on the people to cooperate with the government in rebuilding the lives of the typhoon victims.

Aside from relief goods, the President also gave P10,000 aid to those who lost their loved ones.

The President was accompanied by Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos, Environment Secretary Ramon Ramon Paje and Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang.

Mass grave

Meanwhile, as the death toll rises in Mindanao, the Department of Health (DOH), on Friday, discouraged local government officials in affected areas not to employ mass graves to the victims of Typhoon Pablo.

In a press conference, DOH spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag said it is not advisable for the dead bodies to be buried summarily since it would be disrespectful, especially for the families of the victims.

He said that it is even advisable for wakes to be held for the dead since it would provide closures to the families.

He explained that there is no need to worry on the possible effects of the decaying bodies being exposed in the open since it does not pose any threat to one's health.

The official said this is because the bacteria in a person's body die when the host perishes.

Tayag said the DOH had already sent body bags to the affected areas while some local government units have sent free coffins.

Also, the health department said it is already bracing for the possible rise in illnesses in evacuation centers and other typhoon-hit areas.

"Naka Blue Alert ang ating mga ospital dun dahil may inaasahang pagtaas ng kaso like diarrhea, leptospirosis, at cholera (Hospitals in the area are now on blue alert in anticipation of possible increase in cases of diarrhea, leptospirosis, and cholera)," said Tayag.

He said health officials are also vigilant against possible spread of colds, cough, and measles, especially in evacuation centers due to cramped situations.

Because of this, the DOH official said they are already preparing their emergency health units for immediate deployment as well as the necessary medicinal supplies and survival kits.

Tayag said they are also closely coordinating with camp managers for the proper hosting of evacuees, particularly in their waste management system. (Jill Beltran/HDT/Sunnex)

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