Duterte to grace 3rd ‘Yolanda’ commemoration

CATBALOGAN CITY (Updated) -- President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to visit Leyte to join survivors in Palo and Tacloban to commemorate the third anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that left thousands of people dead and many others missing three years ago.

Police Chief Inspector Bella Rentuaya, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office-Eastern Visayas, said Duterte will join a thanksgiving prayer and candle lighting ceremony in mass graves in both areas -- considered as the hardest hit by the deadly storm.

Duterte will also conduct a dialogue and forum with the mayors, governors and other leaders in Eastern Visayas. Many of whom voted and supported the President’s anti-drug war campaign.

He is also expected to give insights on the campaign, especially about the recent killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, one of the mayors tagged as protectors of drug syndicates.

Meanwhile, November 8, 2016 was declared a holiday in Tacloban City -- the convergence point of Yolanda third anniversary.

Mayor Cristina Romualdez signed Executive Order 2016-036, declaring “no classes” at all levels and “no work” as the City lined up several activities for the occasion, such as wreath-laying and masses at Basper, Holy Cross mass graves.

The same activities were also held Monday at Anibong Shipwreck Landmark in Barangay Anibong.

Around 7 a.m. of November 8, churches will ring their bells and sounds of serins from the Bureau of Fire Protection will be heard. It will be followed by a commemorative program and unveiling and turnover of Family Park at Astrodome along Real St.

Simultaneous candle-lighting along the streets of Tacloban will also be held at 6 p.m., to be followed by sky lantern memorial, focusing with a theme “Faith, Hope and Love.”

In remembrance of journalists killed in action during the height of the tragedy, a media organization will also hold a wreath-laying and candle lighting ceremony at Monching Noblejas Junction, in front of old dyVL, in Rimas colon.

A separate candle-lighting, sponsored by another group, is also being worked out from San Jose to Coca-cola junction up to the city for the missing persons that are presumed to be dead.

In Eastern Samar, Bishop Crispin B. Varquez of the Diocese of Borongan praised Estehanons for their resiliency and sacrifices they had shown to move on from the disaster that took away from them their loved ones, homes and livelihood.

In a pastoral letter read on November 2, Varquez said it is the strong faith in God that gave the survivors strength and inspiration to move on.

He encouraged them to continue praying, “so that (you) may find peace in the heavenly kingdom of God.”

“All of us had been witness to the resiliency of the Filipino people when Yolanda had wreaked havoc – (which) even foreigners had been in wonder about this resiliency in the middle of a tragedy. However, we should also see that it is the strong faith in God which strengthened ourselves, our families, and our communities,” Varquez said.

The Provincial Government of Samar is also building up similar events.

Wreath-laying, candle-lighting and prayers are also being simultaneously held at Marabut and Basey towns, and at the Sta. Rita–San Juanico junction where a memorial of resiliency was built.

Three years after the storm, government officials said many areas in Eastern Visayas had recovered. With the help coming from international non-government organizations (NGO) and other foreign donors, many government offices, school buildings and shelters were built.

An NGO called "People Surge," however, stands firm in saying there were many survivors in Samar and Leyte who remained deprived of government assistance.

The group said many typhoon victims remained unpaid for their Emergency Shelter Assistance.

From November 1 to 8, the group held street protests, petitions and dialogues with the government representatives with a hope that “true justice” will be served to them before the next commemoration in 2017. (Sunnex)

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