TACLOBAN

Duterte to grace 'low key, meaningful' 6th Yolanda anniversary

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will attend the commemoration of the 6th Yolanda Anniversary in Tacloban City on November 8.

The City Tourism Operations Office said the President, along with other national officials, foreign dignitaries, and representatives from various non-governmental organizations, will lead the inauguration of a water system in resettlement sites for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, which battered central Philippines in November 2013.

"The City Government is opting for a low key, yet meaningful commemoration of the Yolanda anniversary that will highlight the efforts of the local government unit in providing the much-needed social services to the Yolanda-affected communities," said Henry James Roca of the City Information Office.

The memorial service will start on November 7 with a 6 p.m. Mass at the Anibong Shipwreck.

Mayor Alfred Romualdez, city officials, and residents will also hold a wreath-laying ceremony in the area.

On November 8, the City will unveil the new memorial for the Yolanda victims at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Barangay Basper, followed by a Mass at 7 a.m.

The new monument located near the mass grave consists of a 10-meter concrete cross and a black oblique granite wall inscribed with the names of 2,273 Yolanda casualties in city.

At 9 a.m., a commemorative program will be held at the Tacloban City Convention Center (Astrodome) where Duterte is expected to deliver a speech.

An evening concert will follow at the Balyu-an Grounds, replacing the traditional Sky Lantern Memorial, which according to Roca, drew mixed reactions during the previous years.

The organizer now opted for a more "environmentally friendly" concert in response to the request by some concerned sectors, said Roca.

Simultaneous pealing of bells in churches around Tacloban will also signal the customary candlelight memorial at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, the House Bill 4960 or the "Yolanda Commemoration Day" has been approved on second reading.

"This bill is intended to be a fitting tribute to the memory of all who died in the disaster and to salute the selflessness of all volunteers and organizations who took part and contributed in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts of the communities affected by the typhoon," said Tingog party-list Representative Yedda Romualdez who sponsored the bill.

If passed into law, November 8 of every year will be a special non-working holiday in Eastern Visayas to honor those who died during the typhoon.

"The pain caused by Yolanda is somewhat negated by the phenomenal opportunity to be able to build back better, given the overwhelming support that comes our way in many forms -- humanitarian aid for immediate disaster relief, funding assistance for rehabilitation and recovery projects, and even technical assistance willing to be shared by experts on understanding better the disaster that hit us and preventing another one from hitting us in the future," added Romualdez in a statement.

At present, Eastern Visayas towns hold annual commemoration of the Yolanda devastation through a local executive order.

Yolanda left 5,982 people dead and displaced 2.6 million families. (SunStar Philippines)


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