Duterte creates body to fast-track rehabilitation
In his televised address to the nation, Duterte expressed hope for Filipinos to rise from the tragedy as he assured adversely affected residents, especially in Cagayan province, that “help is on its way.”
Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi, Jr.

Duterte creates body to fast-track rehabilitation

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte created yesterday a special task force to ensure the immediate rehabilitation of areas devastated by Typhoon Ulysses, particularly the heavily flooded region of Cagayan Valley where rescue efforts were still ongoing.

In his televised address to the nation, Duterte expressed hope for Filipinos to rise from the tragedy as he assured adversely affected residents, especially in Cagayan province, that “help is on its way.”

“Help will be coming, that assistance will be expedited in due time,” he said in Filipino, adding that the government was doing its best to provide help as soon as possible to Tuguegarao City, Cagayan and Isabela in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley).

Powerful storms in succession – Quinta, Rolly and then Ulysses – ravaged provinces and cities in all the regions of Luzon, including the National Capital Region or Metro Manila.

The President is set to visit Cagayan today to provide assistance and assess the condition and needs of affected areas, Sen. Bong Go said.

Go said so far, all government agencies have been mobilized to respond to those hit by the typhoon.

The President said he created the task force, composed of representatives from various agencies, to speed up government’s response to the need for rehabilitation.

“I directed them to streamline (processes) para madali ang (to expedite) rehabilitation efforts affected by the typhoon,” said Duterte, who has been monitoring rescue efforts in Cagayan Valley since dawn yesterday.

“I gave them a timeline to take steps without delays and cut red tape to speed up the process in helping the people,” he said.

He said the task force must facilitate faster rehabilitation efforts as well as the immediate distribution of relief assistance.

The President also addressed typhoon victims awaiting rescue and assistance, assuring them that all government assets at his disposal are being mobilized.

“Wait a little bit more, it will take some minutes. Those who haven’t been rescued from atop their homes… our air assets would get there,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.

The President added: “You must know that I am aware of your hardships. I know you need help and you’re hoping it reaches you at the soonest time.”

The country was still reeling from the adverse impacts of the recent typhoons when rains dumped by Ulysses in the Sierra Madre mountains cascaded down, flooding a majority of the populated areas of Cagayan Valley.

A military official described aerial images of the flooded region as “the Pacific Ocean.”

In separate statements, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. and Go assured the public that the President was on top of the situation and monitoring developments in Region 2 since before dawn yesterday from his official residence at Malago compound, Malacañang.

“We continue our rescue operations in Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley and Isabela in the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses,” Roque said in an interview at PTV-4’s Laging Handa program.

“Right now, our focus is on rescue efforts. It is important to save the lives of the Filipinos affected. Therefore, the President immediately ensured that all government assets are ready to be used to save those in need,”Go said in a separate statement.

Due to the gravity of the situation, Duterte had to forego his virtual participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-United States (ASEAN-US) Summit.

Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. read Duterte’s statement early Saturday morning.

By mid-morning, Duterte was able to deliver his speech before the ASEAN-Australian Biennial Summit.

“The President is on top of the situation,” assured Roque, emphasizing the Chief Executive was in constant communication with Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, who heads the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Duterte had directed the Departments of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) and of Health (DOH) to provide assistance to the affected population in Region 2. – Cecille Suerte Felipe

PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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