State of national calamity not needed – Marcos
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said a state of national calamity was not necessary as the damage caused by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (international name: Nalgae) was not extensive and was “highly localized.”
Paeng, which exited the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) Monday morning, left 98 people dead and 63 others missing in its wake, according to the latest report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). It affected 1.9 million individuals in 17 regions and forced 975,000 to take shelter in evacuation centers.
In a brief interview with reporters at Barangay San Jose II in Noveleta, Cavite, where he led the distribution of government assistance to evacuees and attended a briefing on the impact of Paeng, the President said he had consulted with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which informed him that the damage the storm inflicted was not widespread and was limited to certain areas.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. I came to that conclusion in consultation with the DENR. The [damage was] not extensive and [was] highly localized,” Marcos said when asked about the NDRRMC’s earlier recommendation.
“We’re talking about the east coast [like] Quezon [province], here in Cavite, and then Maguindanao. So those are the areas. There’s no need for a national calamity [declaration],” he added, saying that other regions, such as the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley and most of the Visayas, were not heavily affected by Paeng.
“I think we will focus better if we stay with the calamity status as we have now,” the president noted, alluding to states of calamity declared by local governments in their areas of jurisdiction.
Marcos ended the media interview with a quip, “Welcome to Hokkaido!”
It was apparently a jab against critics on social media who claimed the reason he was not able to preside over the NDRRMC meeting in person last Saturday was that he was in Japan.
Of the deaths from flooding and landslides caused by Paeng, the NDRRMC said the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) accounted for 53 fatalities, while Western Visayas had 19; Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), 12; Eastern Visayas, six; Zamboanga, four, Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City), three; and Bicol, one.
Almost two million people were affected by the storm in 17 regions, the NDRRMC said.
More than 4,100 houses and P757 million worth of infrastructure were reported damaged.
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), however, around 2.1 million individuals, or 560,000 families, nationwide were affected as of Monday. Social Welfare Undersecretary Edu Punay said the DSWD had distributed P48.1 million worth of food packs and nonfood items to affected communities.
Based on the DSWD’s latest data, 852 houses were destroyed by Paeng, while 2,212 were damaged.
The number of fatalities in Western Visayas rose to 20 while six people remained missing.
Eighteen of the deaths were due to drowning, many of them after being swept away by floodwaters.
A resident died after he was covered by mounds of earth following a landslide in Tobias Fornier town in Antique, while another suffered a heart attack and hypothermia in Sibalom town, also in Antique.
Antique had the most number of fatalities at nine. Six fatalities were reported in Aklan, two in Capiz and three in Iloilo, according to the report released by the
Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Western Visayas.
The council also reported six missing persons in Western Visayas as of Monday morning. This includes four from Antique, and one each from Aklan and Iloilo.
At least 217,300 families, or 821,497 people from 1,432 barangays in the region, were affected by the storm either because of floods, forced evacuation, displacement, or effects on their crops and employment.
In Luzon, the number of fatalities related to Paeng rose to 22 as authorities in Calabarzon and Cordillera regions tallied new deaths on Monday, while the damage to agriculture climbed to P701 million.
Seven of the latest fatalities were from Quezon, four from Batangas, three from Cavite, and two from Laguna, the police in these provinces said.
The victims were either trapped in floodwaters, electrocuted, struck by falling trees, buried by landslides or drowned in swollen rivers from Oct. 29 to Oct. 30, police said.
In the farm sector, the estimated damage wrought by Paeng has breached the P1-billion mark, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Monday.
In a report, the DA said the farm sector incurred P1.33 billion in losses due to the weather disturbance as of Monday afternoon, sharply up from the initial estimate of P49.54 million.
The livelihood of 53,849 farmers and fishers was affected and the volume of production loss was 66,963 metric tons covering 64,607 hectares of land.
“Affected commodities include rice, corn, high-value crops, livestock and poultry, and fisheries. Damage has also been incurred in agricultural facilities,” the DA said.
Assistance to farmers
The rice sector accounted for more than 92 percent of the recorded damage at P1.23 billion. High-value crops came second with P60 million; fisheries, P16 million; corn, P5.59 million; agricultural infrastructure, P20.6 million; and livestock and poultry, P1.92 million.
The latest tally adds to the P594.02 million in losses reported following the onslaught of Tropical Storm “Maymay” and Typhoon “Neneng” last month.
The president, who is concurrently the agriculture secretary, said the government was ready to provide support for farmers affected by Paeng.
—WITH REPORTS FROM JORDEENE B. LAGARE, JOEY MARZAN, DELFIN T. MALLARI JR., VILLAMOR VISAYA JR., KIMBERLIE QUITASOL, VINCENT CABREZA, REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, MA. APRIL MIER-MANJARES, JUN A. MALIG AND TONETTE OREJAS
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