Elections in 3 Isabela towns suspended-A A +A
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
MANILA -- The government postponed Wednesday the barangay and youth elections in three towns in Isabela province, with the residents still rapt in mending the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Juan.
Places where the elections for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan were suspended are the towns of Divilacan, Palanan and Maconacon. The polls are supposed to be held on Monday, October 25.
Undersecretary Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRMMC), said the decision was reached after his meeting with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Wednesday in Camp Aguinaldo.
"The extent of damage is really huge. There's no electricity yet, there's extensive damage to infrastructure and problems with access. The people are still reeling from the effects of the typhoon. It would be unwise to hold it," he told Sun.Star by phone.
Ramos said elections in other areas in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), however, will go on as scheduled.
Comelec chief Jose Melo said elections in Kalinga, Apayao, Cagayan and the rest of Isabela will take place earlier at 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., instead of the original 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"There's no power in the area. The new schedule will give the board of election inspectors (BEIs) more day light hours to tally and certify the votes," he told Sun.Star.
Asked on the total cost of damages left by Super Typhoon Juan, the strongest to hit the country in four years, Ramos said he could not give a definite estimate.
"We could not give an estimate because we are still in the process of assessing the situation. We have to wait for more reports from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, and other agencies before we can make a better estimate," he said.
Ramos, together with Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, visited Isabela province Wednesday to conduct a damage assessment.
The provinces of Isabela, Cagayan and Zambales were placed under state of calamity.
"The province was really devastated, especially the three coastal towns (Divilacan, Palacan, Maconacon). We are pouring our efforts in transporting relief goods and medicine to the said areas. The victims also need makeshift tents," Ramos said.
In the 8 a.m. Thursday report from the NDRRMC, the agency noted that the damage to agriculture and infrastructure in northern Luzon reached P4.8 billion.
The NDRRMC also reported 13,995 households that were affected by the super typhoon.
The tropical cyclone also killed 19 people and injured 24 others.
Of the fatalities, seven were recorded in Pangasinan, two in La Union, two in Ilocos Sur while one each from Cagayan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Kalinga, Benguet, Baguio and Quezon City.
The same report said more than 63,450 families were displaced by the typhoon in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and the National Capital Region.
Super Typhoon Juan, according to the 5 a.m. bulletin of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), is still packing maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 210 kph.
Although it would remain stationary in the next 12 hours, the typhoon is expected to move north northeast at seven kph. It was last spotted at 300 kilometers west Laoag City.
Storm signals were already lifted.
The weather bureau said Wednesday that a new tropical cyclone might hit the Philippines next week.
Graciano Yumul, officer-in-charge of Pagasa, said the low pressure area was spotted 1,500 kilometers away from the country's area of responsibility.
"The new LPA could develop into a storm probably next week and will be named 'Katring.' The LPA is somewhat following the track of typhoon 'Juan', which means it might hit Northern Luzon as well," he told Sun.Star.
With the onset of the La Niña phenomenon, Pagasa said the public should expect six storms to barrel the country before the year ends.
Senior weather forecaster Mario Palafox said three of it will hit the country this month, two in November, and one in December.
La Niña is the complete reverse of El Niño or extreme drought, which is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific and is expected to bring extreme wet weather in the other parts of the region. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)