By Francis Wakefield
The grueling search for 176 people still missing in mudslides, swollen rivers, and coastal areas continued yesterday across six regions in Mindanao that took the worst of tropical storm “Vinta’s” scourge last weekend.
Based on the latest figures released by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) at the press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, NDRRMC Spokesperson Romina Marasigan said that apart from those missing, 164 of those reported killed have been confirmed and identified.
By region, the death toll is 65 in Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula); 75 in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao); and 24 in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Meanwhile, Marasigan also confirmed the identities of six of the missing persons as Jino Agapay Lacaza, 21, of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur; Elizabeth Alferez, 45; Nelgine Alferez, 5; Jonjie Duriaz, 3; and Cornelio Alferez, 54, all of Gutalac, Zamboanga del Norte; and Benjo Apigo 14, of Salug Zamboanga del Norte.
Marasigan said a total of 118,596 families or persons are affected in 1,034 barangays in MIMAROPA, Regions VII, IX, X, XI, XII, ARMM, and CARAGA.
Of the number of families affected, 19,485 or 90,987 persons are currently being served inside 246 evacuation centers.
Marasigan said a total of 12,189 families are presently staying with their relatives.
She added that at present, three areas have been declared under state of calamity due to heavy flooding and landslides.
These are the areas of Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur, Bacolod, Lanao del Norte; and the whole province of Lanao del Norte.
Marasigan told reporters in a press briefing that there are still funds for residents affected by the Vinta but because the year is about to end, they have to ask the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for funding.
Time to help – Tagle
Saying Christmas is a time to think about others, church leaders are appealing for help for the victims of tropical storms Urduja and Vinta in the Visayas and Mindanao.
“We appeal to you this Christmas and even in the coming days to help our brothers and sisters especially in Visayas and Mindanao,” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said over church-run Radyo Veritas.
The foreign ministers of China and Japan have expressed their sympathies to the Philippines following the series of tragedies that struck the country in a span of almost two weeks.
“Tropical storm Vinta recently hit the Philippines and caused severe casualties and property losses, making a lot of people displaced. I would like to hereby extend my heartfelt sympathy to Your Honorable on the tragic disaster,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a statement sent to Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano.
“I am convinced that, under the leadership of the Philippine government, the people of the affected areas are bound to overcome the disaster and restore their normal livelihood at the earliest date,” the Chinese official added.
The Japanese government, on the other hand, conveyed its condolences to the victims of the storm that hit Mindanao last week.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathy to the Philippine government and its people on the typhoon damage in the Southern Philippines,” said Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kano in a letter to the DFA.
Kano assured that the Japanese government is ready to provide assistance when needed by the Philippines.
“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the bereaved and sincerely pray for the prompt restoration of the affected areas,” the Japanese official said.
Earlier, Caritas Manila issued an appeal for donations for the victims of the storms which hit large parts of the Philippines towards the end of December 2017.
“We at Caritas Manila are ready to accept your donations which we will bring to the different churches and dioceses in Mindanao. Please let us be merciful as Christmas is the time when we should think about helping others,” Tagle said.
The social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila said the public can help alleviate the sufferings of the storm victims by donating cash or in-kind such as rice.
Those who wish to donate in cash may do so online via http://ushare.unionbankph.com/caritas/ or by bank deposit: Banco De Oro – Savings Account No.: 5600-45905, Bank of the Philippine Islands – Savings Account No.: 3063-5357-01 or Metrobank – Savings Account No.: 175-3-175069543
For dollar accounts: Bank of the Philippine Islands – Savings Account No. 3064-0033-5 Swift Code – BOPIPHMM or Philippine National Bank — Savings Account No. 108566600025 Swift Code — PNBMPHMM.
Donations can also be made via Cebuana Lhuillier or dropped off at Caritas Manila office: 2002 Jesus St. Pandacan, Manila or Radio Veritas on West Avenue corner EDSA, Quezon City.
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches is also gathering donations for the storm victims.
“Let us bring hope to our countrymen and help them recover from these calamities,” Bishop Noel Pantoja, PCEC national director, said in a statement.
The president of the Philippine Relief and Development Services said donations may be sent to PHILRADS: BDO Anonas-Kamias Branch
PHP Account: SA No. 003980000251 and USD Account: SA No. 103980032226.
PHILRADS is already set to distribute 2,000 food packs in Eastern Visayas particularly in Samar and Biliran provinces, and serve hot meals to 2,000 families in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental.
The devastation, Pantoja said, turned out to be far greater than what was anticipated especially in several areas of Mindanao. (With reports from Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Roy C. Mabasa)