P-Noy declares state of national calamity
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino yesterday declared a state of national calamity to speed up relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas hit by Typhoon Nona and to control the prices of basic commodities.

Under Proclamation No. 1186, the President also directed law enforcement agencies, with the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to ensure peace and order in affected areas.

“All departments and other concerned government agencies are hereby directed to coordinate with, and provide or augment the basic services and facilities of affected local government units,” he added.

The President said pursuant to Republic Act No. 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) recommended the declaration of a state of national calamity.

Nona is already out of the country, but wide areas in Eastern Visayas, Bicol region, Southern Tagalog, and Central Luzon are still reeling from the trail of devastation.

As of yesterday, the NDRRMC placed the initial damage to agriculture and infrastructure in the storm-ravaged regions at P933,192,943 and still rising toward the P1-billion mark.

Nueva Ecija and Aurora, which are still struggling to recover from the onslaught of Typhoon Lando last October, were again ravaged by Nona.

The NDRRMC said the death toll from Nona rose to 17, a figure much lower than the 38 fatalities reported yesterday by regional disaster offices. At least 358 persons were injured in Northern Samar province alone.

This death toll is expected to rise due to unconfirmed reports of fatalities in the widespread flooding that hit the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Pampanga and Aurora.


On Friday some of the casualties in Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga were identified.

Cagayan Valley police director Chief Supt. Rainer Idio said village leader Mario Mislan and Angela Pundo and her children Jian and Jennylyn were buried alive in their hut in Barangay Lublub after landslides occurred at the height of the typhoon.

As of yesterday, rescuers are yet to account for two more victims believed to still be under tons of mud in the area.

The body of Manny Cajucom who was swept away by strong river currents at the height of the typhoon was recovered in Barangay Abuyo.

In Alfonso Lista in Ifugao, search teams are looking for 60-year-old farmer Lino Bunag, who was swept away by strong currents in Magat river during the storm. Ifugao police director Sr. Supt. John Colinio, citing reports, said Bunag crossed the river after visiting his farm in Barangay Caragasan.

The Office of Civil Defense said that 24-year-old Abraham Lazaro of Ipil-ipil, Pangatian in Cabanatuan City and 55-year-old Situ Morales of Cadaclan in Pantabanagan town drowned, as did Nelly Cogonon of Barangay Dimabuno, Dipaculao in Aurora.

Floods remain

As rains continue in Central Luzon, at least 57 barangays in the region were still flooded yesterday.

Floodwaters from Nueva Ecija and Pampanga also started to cascade down to Calumpit town, inundating more villages early Friday morning.

Floodwaters in Cabanatuan reached peak level and would eventually cascade toward Calumpit and Hagonoy towns in Bulacan, the perennial catch basin for Central Luzon’s floods.

Expected to be affected in Calumpit are the villages of Sapang Bayan, Gatbuca, Frances, San Miguel, Meysulao, Calizon, Bulusan, Sta. Lucia, San Jose, Meyto, Panducot, Balungao, Poblacion, Sucol, Caniogan, Gugo, Iba’o Este, Buguion, Balite, Sergio Bayan, San Marcos, Palimbang and Iba Este.

The Department of Public Works and Highways reported that national roads in many areas also remained flooded as of yesterday morning.

These are the Aurora section of Nueva Ecija-Aurora Road; Castañeda-Maria Aurora-San Luis Road in Barangay Bucot; Aliaga section of the Cabanatuan-Carmen Road; portions of Pantabangan-Canili-Basal-Baler Road; and sections of the Tablang Gabaldon Road.

Major dams in Luzon, including Angat Dam in Bulacan, have reached their maximum levels due to days of heavy rains brought by Nona early this week.

PAGASA has stopped the release of excess water in Angat and Ipo Dam, also in Bulacan, and Ambuklao and Binga Dams in Benguet and Magat Dam in Isabela as of 6 a.m. yesterday. 

Power not yet fully restored

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), on the other hand, reported sustained tripping in lines in Central Luzon.

These are the Cabanatuan-Bongabon-Baler 69kV line, which covers NEECO II Area1 and Area 2 (Talavera, Natividad, Llanera, Palayan, Bongabon, Gabaldon, Laur and Rizal in Nueva Ecija) and AURELCO (Dingalan, San Luis, Maria, Baler, Dipaculao in Aurora).

Power outages were also reported in the Cabanatuan-Bulualto-San Isidro 69kV line 2, which covers NEECO I (San Isidro, Gapan, San Antonio, Jaen and Cabiao, Nueva Ecija); and Cabanatuan-Pantabangan 69 kV line, which covers NEECO II-Area 1 (Aliaga, Quezon, Licab, Guimba, Talugtog, Science City of Muñoz, Lupao and Carranglan in Nueva Ecija), SAJELCO (San Jose City) and PAMES (Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija). ?“We will commence restoration activities once floodwater subsides,” NGCP Central Luzon corporate communication and public affairs officer Ernest Lorenz Vidal said. 

The NDRRMC said the services of telecommunications firms Smart Communications, Globe Telecom and Sun Communications are fully restored in the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Albay, Batangas, Camarines Norte, Marinduque and Quezon.

Service is not yet fully restored in other affected areas.

Onyok to bring rains

While Nona has left the country, most parts of the country will still have a rainy weekend due to the northeast monsoon and Tropical Depression Onyok, the state weather bureau said yesterday. 

Onyok slightly weakened and slowed down as it moved westward toward Davao Oriental area yesterday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

PAGASA weather forecaster Buddy Javier said Onyok was forecast to make landfall over Davao Oriental between 8 and 10 p.m. yesterday. It is expected to weaken into a low-pressure area after landfall.

As of 5 p.m., public storm warning signal No. 1 was hoisted over Surigao del Sur, including Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat province, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Davao del Sur, Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Onyok is expected to dump heavy to intense rains in areas within its 150-km diameter. PAGASA continued to warn residents in low-lying and mountainous areas of the provinces under signal No. 1 against possible flashfloods and landslides.

Meanwhile, the Bicol region, Eastern Visayas and the provinces of Isabela, Aurora and Quezon will experience moderate to heavy rains, which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.

PAGASA also warned the public against venturing out to the seaboards of Luzon and the eastern seaboard of the Visayas due to big waves generated by the surge of the northeast monsoon.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the eye of Onyok was located at 210 km east of Mati, Davao Oriental, packing winds of 45 kilometers per hour near the center. The cyclone was forecast to move westward at 18 kph.

Onyok is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility tomorrow.

Aside from Onyok, no other weather disturbance is seen to enter the country until Christmas.

Relief operations

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman said P675,747,444.22 in standby funds, 199,295 family food packs and P115,101,657.30 worth of food and non-food items are available for areas that would be affected by Onyok.

“Our DSWD field offices maintain 30,000 food packs in their warehouses at any given time, so there are enough relief supplies for distribution,” she added.

Soliman also gave assurance that preparations for Onyok were not affected by the DSWD’s continuing relief operations for the families affected by Nona, especially in the hard-hit Region 5.

Soliman said P43.1 million worth of relief assistance was given to Regions 4-A and B, Bicol region and Eastern Visayas from the combined resources of DSWD and concerned local government units.

Malacañang said Typhoon Nona victims would have to live in tents for now as rebuilding of all houses might take time due to the massive scale of devastation.

But Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said there are enough funds for the needs of the victims and authorities were trying their best to promptly deliver assistance.

Aside from food supplies, 250 rolls of tarpaulin will be distributed to families with damaged houses.

A total of 270,240 GI sheets, 16,550 kg of umbrella nails and 7,500 kg of common nails were also allocated for the provincial government of Northern Samar from the DSWD-Field Office 8. These materials can be used to repair damaged and destroyed houses. – With Helen Flores, Jaime Laude, Non Alquitran, Rainier Allan Ronda, Victor Martin, Ding Cervantes, Raymund Catindig, Gerry Lee Gorit, Ric Sapnu, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Ben Serrano

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