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PNoy: Lando's effects expected for 3 days, flooding still imminent

President Benigno Aquino III meets with Cabinet members on Friday to discuss the government preparations for Typhoon Lando. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Monday visited typhoon-hit Nueva Ecija and urged displaced families to stay in evacuation centers due to imminent flooding.

Aquino went to Nueva Ecija National High School in Cabanatuan City and distributed food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development to displaced families. An earlier advisory from Malacañang said Aquino will visit Santa Rosa town.

The president also assessed the situation in the province where some areas were left submerged and isolated following the heavy rains dumped by the typhoon.

"We are still collating all of the data," Aquino told reporters when asked about the extent of Lando's damage.

"There are areas we have no communication and no electricity but there are less and less areas that are somewhat isolated. Cabanatuan, in fact, was part of the list of those isolated, that's why we are here," he added.

Compared to previous typhoons that hit land, Aquino said Lando is expected to affect the country for a longer period.

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"Basically, the challenge here is that you have a lingering typhoon as opposed to just crossing our land mass in a matter of a few hours. The expectation for the effects of this particular typhoon are about three days long," he said.

While weather conditions have improved slightly in some parts of Luzon, Aquino said evacuees should not yet return to their homes since flooding is still expected.

The president said there are around 800 barangays in several provinces that are considered susceptible to the effects of rainwater coming down from the north, where Lando is heading for.

"The challenge with a lot of our countrymen ‎is that, they don't seem to see the amount of rain it is pouring, they think it is safe already to go back to their communities but we are preventing them right now because the expectations from tonight and after tomorrow, a lot of this rainfall that fell on the northern portion of Luzon will be coming down and will be affecting all of these barangays near the major river systems," Aquino said.

He also warned of other threats such as electrocution and water-borne diseases in the flooded areas.

"The disturbance is still with us. It has not exited the land mass at this point in time. It has veered northeast so it really will affect a lot of these areas in Region 1 and the Cordillera area, and that's what we are trying to gear up for. And of course, we want to prevent any spread of a disease, leptospirosis is considered a threat especially the way through the floodwaters," he said.

Aquino said the government has responded to all concerns.

"Casualties so far, hopefully will not climb. But again we will not take any chance and we will try to ensure that we are on the side of being conservative and making sure that everybody is protected during this time," he said. 

Aquino was accompanied in Nueva Ecija by DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Sarmiento, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Health Secretary Janet Garin.

In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said government agencies have been exerting coordinated efforts to ensure "timely and effective" disaster response operations.

Lacierda also assured that there will be no political color in the government relief operations.

He said the Aquino administration will help any province regardless of political affiliation.

"In any natural calamity, in any storm, the administration has been assisting, and siguro what we call 'color blind,' regardless of your political affiliation because we're not looking at the person, the local government official," Lacierda said.

Nueva Ecija and neighboring province Aurora were among the hardest hit areas by Lando.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that Palayan City, Gapan and Cabanatuan City were among the flooded areas.

Nigel Lontoc of the Office of Civil Defense said some residents in low-lying villages were trapped on rooftops by floodwaters.

According to the NDRRMC, Lando has affected over 20,000 families in six Luzon regions.

More than 9,000 of the typhoon victims were from Aurora province. In Nueva Ecija, 3,758 of the 4,467 typhoon victims in the province were from Cabanatuan City. 

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