Govt. adopts ‘zero cargo’ plan to fast-track relief distribution
Ria Mae Y. Booc (The Freeman) - November 17, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras is implementing what he describes as ”zero cargo” strategy in dispersing relief packs in Samar and Leyte.

The plan calls for the need to transport relief goods to typhoon-stricken areas in Samar and Leyte not less than 24 hours upon arrival in Cebu, which is made as hub for relief efforts for the two provinces.

Almendras, a Cebuano, has been designated as head of logistics for the government effort to provide aid to all victims.

With enormous logistical support coming from other countries participating in humanitarian efforts for Samar and Leyte, it is Almendras’ aim to have dozen flights from Cebu to Tacloban City and back.

“We unload and load kung ano ang darating.  Within 24 hours it will be sent out, including a pile of goods that arrived last night,” he said.

Almendras said that with Cebu closer to Tacloban than Manila, they are planning to move more goods from the capital city to Cebu by expanding the Cebu packing and repacking centers.

Cebu has been made the center for relief distribution in Central Visayas because of its capability in producing a huge number of packs in a day aside from being the central location of logistics from other countries.

“We need as much as 140,000 packs a day and we solved the production problem because we are capable to produce such.  What we are trying to address is the problem how to shift the goods,” Almendras said.

He said that despite the tons of goods that came, less can be seen at the base operation site inside the Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City, as some of the goods were distributed in Tacloban City.

For his part, Central Command Commander Roy Deveraturda appealed to those who have not received anything to contact the military or the police in their area so they would also be given.

“I appeal that if there are not receiving relief goods then tell us and we will go there because the tons of goods we deliver are enough to those who are in need,” he said.

Meanwhile, Almendras called as “misreporting” the news stories on government’s supposed failure to immediately respond and send help to the Leyte and Samar immediately after super typhoon Yolanda struck.

“Maraming misreporting at maraming misinformation na lumabas; and I am telling you that when the true story comes out we would know the kind of sacrifice and the kind of work people did,” he said.

Almendras said it is inaccurate to report that government just started working three days after the storm on Nov. 8, as they already had a coordination meeting with the Armed Forces of the Philippines for possible actions to take prior to Yolanda’s landfall.

Also, he said that the airport in Tacloban City is already open after 40 soldiers, who themselves experienced firsthand the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda, cleared it of debris.

The soldiers were among those whose barracks were washed out by the storm surge, where strong winds brought by Yolanda caused seawater to surge inland.  Six of their colleagues were killed during the catastrophe.

Almendras also said that people should take warnings more seriously because many do not even know what a storm surge is.

“There were seminars and pictures shown; but this is not the time na magsisihan as failure is not an option here.  We will deliver and address the needs of our countrymen,” he said. (FREEMAN)

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