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‘Next time, response will be perfect’

US soldiers assist an elderly woman at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City where a USAF C-130 carrying typhoon victims from Tacloban City landed yesterday.  VAL RODRIGUEZ    

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang welcomed yesterday criticisms from foreign journalists on the relief operations for victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Speaking to reporters, Press Secretary Herminio Coloma said the criticisms give the administration an opportunity to do better.

He said the problems in disaster response were “borne out of severe constraints.”

“We welcome all criticisms,” he said, “so that we can make (the response) perfect the next time around.”

Coloma said President Aquino is directly in charge of the entire relief operation.

“The President ordered all members of the Cabinet to focus on and coordinate the actions of the different government agencies to improve and hasten the delivery of help to as many families and communities as possible in the affected provinces,” he said.

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Coloma said the command structure of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) showed Aquino was on top, aided by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras.

The main men after them are Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and NDRRMC chief Eduardo del Rosario, he added.

Coloma said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director-general Joel Villanueva would take charge of logistics, while Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya would ensure their expeditious delivery.

The airdropping of goods was an option, but it would be more effective to move them by land, he added.

Coloma said the NDRRMC structure shows “all hands on deck,” and that all departments and agencies were performing specific tasks based on law.

“This is the most comprehensive framework based on law and which the current administration is following,” he said.

Coloma said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is working double time to clear the roads to speed up the delivery of relief goods.

Telecommunication services had been restored in Tacloban City, he added.

Coloma said lawless elements are raiding rice warehouses, but the police and military have been deployed to maintain peace and order.

“We cannot deny that there have been shortcomings, but these are because of severe constraints,” he said.

Coloma said one cannot really imagine a perfect world, especially in a huge and complex organization like the national government.

– With Alexis Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jaime Laude, JessDiaz, Paolo Romero


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