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âNobody gets left behindâ
“Rest assured, the government will not leave anybody behind. We will get through this crisis. I assure you as one nation, kapit po tayo mga kababayan, magbayanihan po tayong lahat (hold on compatriots, let’s help each other),” the President said in an address to the nation.
Presidential Photographers Division/Simon Celi, file

‘Nobody gets left behind’

Christina Mendez, Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - November 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As the nation reeled from the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, President Duterte said yesterday no one would be left behind as the government embarked on rescue and evacuation efforts.

“Rest assured, the government will not leave anybody behind. We will get through this crisis. I assure you as one nation, kapit po tayo mga kababayan, magbayanihan po tayong lahat (hold on compatriots, let’s help each other),” the President said in an address to the nation.

“I assure everyone that your government is on top of the situation,” he said. The Chief Executive said he would have wanted to be with the people in distress but had been prevented from going out by his doctor and the Presidential Security Group.

“So that’s the situation. It’s not that I am at a distance from you. I wanted to go there – swim if I had to. The problem is, they preventing me; they’re telling me I can’t die, because there’s only one president,” he said in Filipino and English.

He said various government agencies have mobilized to address the displacement of thousands caused by Ulysses’ devastation.

“I renew my call on all local government units and concerned agencies to ensure that the well-being and safety of our people remain the top priority. As President I guarantee you that your government will do its best to provide assistance in the form of shelters, relief goods, financial aid and post-disaster counseling,” he said.

He said the government was ready to deploy coast guard boats or even helicopters to help rescue or evacuate people trapped in their homes.

On criticisms that he and other officials had been scarce at the height of Ulysses’ onslaught, Duterte said he had not even slept a wink as he also had to prepare for the virtual opening ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Leaders Summit. “They’re saying I did nothing but sleep. There’s no time to sleep here. As I talk to you now, I just delivered the ASEAN Philippine message,” he said.

He recalled that his aides went silent when he told them the vice president could always replace him if he died or got incapacitated. “They did not reply.  They just looked at each other and told me that I cannot die at this moment. If you drown, we will also drown with you,” he said, quoting one of his guards.

“I said, there’s vice president anyway. That’s the reason there’s such position. There are many officials outside. There is only one president,” he pointed out.

“Now if you think I’m just concerned about my life, my wellbeing, well I’m not. I want to go out and swim – I haven’t taken a bath for a long time,” he said.

“Well, anyway, that is the fortune of our lives. We want to be of help. We want to be near and we want to share the grief and we want to share the agony,” Duterte added.

He said he didn’t even care about getting infected with the coronavirus 2019 as long as he could reach out and help the people.

Sen. Bong Go said that on the President’s orders, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine National Police (PNP) have mobilized all their assets to help in rescue and evacuation.

Prioritized in rescue operations were residents of Marikina and San Mateo where thousands were forced to stay on the roofs of their houses to escape the flood, Go said in a television interview.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said concerned government agencies have started providing relief, rescue and assistance to those affected by the typhoon.

The PNP has deployed around 3,261 personnel for search and rescue operations.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has more than P800 million worth of goods and standby funds for disaster response.

“Let us help one another and demonstrate the Filipino bayanihan spirit in this time of need. Together, we will overcome and recover,” Roque said.

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PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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