President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will tour typhoon-devastated areas in Mindanao and the Visayas this weekend, vowing to raise money to fund relief efforts despite dwindling government budget as it battles the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m flying tomorrow to the area. Also, I would hit maybe Leyte, Surigao, and if there is enough time, Bohol,” President Duterte said Friday during a situation briefing in Malacanang with government agencies on government response to Typhoon Odette.
“Then day after, I would try to visit Cebu, then dito sa western — eastern side of the islands, ang Bacolod, Iloilo.”
The President said he is not worried about damage to government infrastructures but fears casualty numbers could mount as rescue and relief operations start to reach isolated areas.
He said his government is trying to raise fund and discussed the matter with the budget department.
“Alam mo depleted ‘yung budget natin immensely because of the COVID. Naubos talaga ‘yung pera natin. We prioritize the expenses,” he explained.
“These typhoons, they are the imponderables as they would say. They would come, they would not come but the — itong COVID naubos ang pera natin. So we’re trying to scrimp how much we can raise so that we can marshal it to the areas affected.”
In his report to the President, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director and Office of Civil Defense Administrator Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad said that based on initial reports, there is a total of 12 deaths, two injuries and seven persons who remain unaccounted.
Disaster officials and personnel will continue their aerial and field assessment, Jalad said, adding the commander of the Western Mindanao Command joined the sortie of Black Hawk helicopters from Davao.
“We have to restore immediately power and communications and continue with the search, rescue and retrieval operations being conducted,” he told the President.
“We also have to provide the needed supplies like for example or relief goods like for example temporary shelter for those with damaged houses that can be provided by DSWD, the provision of food supplies and other relief goods that would be given also by DSWD and the support from the Office of Civil Defense.”
Jalad said most of the relief goods and food supplies from the DSWD were already prepositioned in the different regional offices prior to the onslaught of the typhoon.
Areas affected by Typhoon Odette were Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, and Caraga region. PND